St. Joseph forms steering committee on funding for infrastructure work

St. Joseph forms steering committee on funding for infrastructure work

ST. JOSEPH — A steering committee has been formed to discuss how to fund infrastructure projects in the village.

The committee is chaired by village Trustee Andy Gherna and includes St. Joseph-Ogden Superintendent Brian Brooks; St. Joseph Grade School Superintendent Todd Pence; Mayor Tami Fruhling-Voges and village Trustees Jim Wagner and Anthony Laubscher; and residents Diana Foltz, Jeff Kern, Luke Fisher, Rod Maddock and Rusty Shafer.

It was formed after 18 months of discussions about a residential tax-increment-financing district proposed by developer Greg Millage for a project he was considering.

In 2017, Millage's plan called for the land, behind Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, to include 64 lots, with 12 duplex condos and an assisted-living facility. Millage developed the 44-lot Windstone Subdivision in Tolono after that village created at TIF district in 2003. St. Joseph's last residential development came in 2007, when the Crestview subdivision was built.

St. Joseph was originally looking at the TIF district as a way to fund infrastructure upgrades, but opponents complained that it takes money away from the local school districts while giving them more children to educate.

TIF districts are usually created when a municipality identifies an economically stagnant or physically declining area and determines that private investment is not likely to occur without public help. The one St. Joseph is discussing is different in that trustees were approached by the developer about creating it.

During a recent steering committee meeting, Gherna said he was comfortable saying a residential TIF district was the a last resort for the village to fund needed drainage and sewer-plant upgrades that have been estimated to cost $8 million.

The steering committee is currently examining grants, loans and sewer-rate increases to cover the cost of the upgrades and will eventually make a recommendation to the village board.

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