Janesville38°

Darien board looking at loan for village hall

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Catherine W. Idzerda
April 17, 2012
— Small town construction, big city financing.

The Village of Darien Board of Trustees on Monday voted to pursue a rural development loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The vote could be the first step in funding for a new village hall—but don’t expect a ground breaking any time soon.


Monday’s vote authorized staff to apply for the loan and set up a Community Development Authority. The CDA would allow the village to borrow money at a better interest rate for a longer period of time, explained Dave Wagner of Ehlers, a firm that provides financial advice to the village.


Larger municipalities have long used CDAs to borrow money for projects.


The USDA thought since rural communities need public facilities as well, they should have access to the same kind of financing, Wagner said.


However, village officials have said in the past they were unwilling raise taxes for a new village hall.


“From the very beginning we decided that we can not afford to go up at all on the tax rate,” Administrator Diana Dykstra said at the meeting.


Where would the money come from? Closing the village’s successful TIF district would provide “substantial tax relief” Wagner said. In addition, the village has been supporting the sewer utility with an estimated $46,000 in general tax levy. The utility is expected to be self-supporting by 2014.


The USDA loan must be used for the redevelopment of a blighted area. The village planned to demolish unusable buildings down the street from space it now rents for offices, and it had tentatively planned to use the area for a new village hall.


Not everyone likes that plan. Darien businessmen Bob Hansen and Gerry Pelishek both expressed concern about the cost of the building.


Hansen urged the board to consider a site that would include a new fire department. Pelishek suggested the board revisit the list created when the village was looking at library sites.


Village board member James Abbott said he was concerned about voting without knowing what it was costs. He pointed out that when the village and the town of Darien discussed getting a new fire truck for their joint department, village officials had to decline because they didn’t have the money.



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