City council: Issuance of bonds for downtown TIF improvements discussed
Allocation of ARPA funds for public safety approved
ROCHELLE — At its meeting Monday, the Rochelle City Council discussed the option of issuing alternate revenue bonds not to exceed $2.5 million for the purpose of paying the cost of improvements to the city's downtown tax-increment financing (TIF) district and resolved to move forward and look into the issue further.
City staff has identified numerous infrastructure projects needed in the area such as site redevelopment, installation of parking lots and sidewalks, moving electric infrastructure underground, street reconstruction and other improvements. Those projects are usually funded by saving funds year over year.
Staff has recommended taking advantage of "the potential of a low interest rate environment" and issuing bonds. TIF districts grow funds through development in the area that generates increment. The debt service payments would be paid out of downtown TIF through the life of the TIF district and this will not require property tax rate increase.
The city will now vote on an ordinance formally allowing staff and bond counsel to determine if the option is feasible for the city. The city's financial advisors anticipate rates in the five percent range and the debt service will run 15-20 years to coincide with the remaining life of the TIF. The anticipated annual debt service payments will be approximately $90,000-$150,000 annually.
City Manager Jeff Fiegenschuh recommended a 15-year debt service option.
"That will ensure that the TIF generates enough revenue to service the debt and that we also have revenue left over to fund projects that we had previously committed to and year-to-year projects that the council wants to fund," Fiegenschuh said. "And we want to make sure the debt service is paid off when the TIF becomes obsolete so we're not using general property tax to pay it."
Infrastructure projects have seen large price increases in recent years and those prices are expected to continue to rise in the coming years. City officials look to balance projects that improve public infrastructure and projects that work with developers for improvements to properties within the TIF that add increment.
"The only way the TIF is successful is if we increase the increment," Fiegenschuh said. "Increment is added revenue. What this does is it ties up future TIF revenues on current projects, and will force us to ensure that in the future as we fund projects, they really need to add increment, otherwise it defeats the purpose of the TIF."
The council unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the allocation of federal American Rescue Plan Act funds for public safety purposes for the Rochelle Police and Fire Departments.
The city received approximately $1,230,566 in two installments from the federal American Rescue Plan Act. To date, funds have been utilized for water and sewer projects and updates to Railfan Park as the funds were appropriated for infrastructure and tourism projects. Approximately $100,000 remains and will be transferred to the ambulance fund to further fund public safety projects including building upgrades at the police and fire departments.
"It makes better sense to use the funds for public safety projects," Fiegenschuh said. "Because we have a lot of public safety projects right now such as the fire training facility and in next year's budget you'll see significant dollars allocated towards the police department for some upgrades down in the locker room and things like that. This is just a better use of the funds."
The council unanimously approved the $71,936 purchase of a Kubota S-Series skid loader for the Rochelle Municipal Utilities electric department from Johnson Tractor. The department's current machine is a 2008 model, which will be kept. The new machine will be used for tasks including lifting transformers and foundations in backyards.
Mayor John Bearrows read a proclamation making Sept. 10-16 Chamber of Commerce Week in the city and presented it to Rochelle Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tricia Herrera.
"Thank you to the city council," Herrera said. "It does make my job easier to have such a supportive city council, city manager and mayor. We've grown a lot in the last few years at the chamber of commerce and I see a lot of growth in the future."
Bearrows also read a proclamation making Sept. 17-23 Constitution Week in the city and presented it to Lydia Roberts of the Rochelle Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
"On behalf of the DAR, I'm privileged to receive this proclamation," Roberts said. "The purpose of the observation of Constitution Week is to encourage the study of historical events that led to the framing of the Constitution in September 1787 to remind the public that the Constitution is the basis of America's great heritage and the foundation for its way of life and to emphasize U.S. citizens' responsibility to protect, defend and preserve the U.S. Constitution."