Creston board: Fiscal year 2024 tax levy approved
New developments seen efforts to demolish homes in disrepair
CRESTON — At its monthly meeting Tuesday, the Creston Village Board of Trustees voted unanimously to approve its fiscal year 2024 tax levy in an amount of $23,176.
The levy represents an average of $37.02 per resident, and there are 626 residents in Creston, Village Treasurer Penny Payton said. The levy is below a five percent increase from last year, which did not require the village to do a truth in taxation hearing.
Trustees discussed ongoing efforts to remedy and demolish properties in Creston that are in disrepair on Tuesday. The village has worked for a number of months on legal work on four properties. Village Attorney Russell Crull said one property at 123 W. North St. has reverted to ownership by a bank which is looking to get it up to code to sell it. The village provided the bank with a list of improvement requirements.
Another property the village is working on has been acquired by Creston to do what it desires with. A third is waiting on one tax lien issue and will be sold to a neighbor and demolished at no cost to the village.
The village's legal team has been unable to communicate with the owner of a fourth property and it will be pursuing a process of demolition without notification.
Demolitions would be done at the village's expense and it would look to recoup those costs through liens on the properties. The village would not have to go out for bids for the demolitions if the cost is under $25,000.
"It's good that these people know we're serious about these things," Village President Tom Byro said. "Driving by these places, we're sick of looking at them."
Trustees discussed the lease of village land for farming at Tuesday's meeting. It has leased out 143 acres in recent years, and planned to add 80 new acres to it following acquiring land from the Rochelle Landfill in a recent agreement.
Byro said Monday that the 80 acres will remain in a lease carried out with the landfill for another year before the lease work is under the village's control. For the 143 acres, the village will go out for bids for the farming of it. That land has been farmed for a number of years by Erik Petry, who will have first right of refusal on farming the land after bids come back.
Crull said last month that the agreement with the landfill, which involves property transfer and its eventual closure on Dec. 31, 2040, was approved by the EPA. The EPA approval saw delays since the agreement, partly due to the redirection of a nearby creek.
Crull said Tuesday that the agreement is still being finalized, including where borders will be.
Byro said maintenance work on Creston's Well 3 has begun. The work will likely take over 3-5 days and samples will be taken to ensure the water is up to standards before it is put back into use.
The well rehabilitation project is being done because Well 3 hasn't been pulled for maintenance since it was installed in 1980. The village will have a new pump motor on site when the well is pulled for maintenance to use while repairs take place.
Trustees resolved Tuesday to move forward with a new comprehensive planning process for Creston. The village's last comprehensive plan was done before 2000, and municipalities typically update them every 10 years. Byro said that by law, comprehensive plan updates must be done following boundary agreements, and Creston agreed to one with the City of Rochelle in recent years.
The comprehensive planning work will first be undertaken by the village's planning commission, and updates will be made to the old plan.
"We are way behind on getting this done," Byro said. "Let's get started on this so we can get it back in order."
Creston Dement Public Library District Director Kristi Scherer attended Tuesday's meeting and provided an update on Christmas in Creston 2023. The parade will take the same route as last year and will begin around 6 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 1. The tree lighting ceremony will take place afterwards.
Festivities will continue on Saturday, Dec. 2. Lunch with Santa will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. There will be vendors in the village as well at the Fogelman Building. Vendors start at 9 a.m. and will run until 2 p.m. There will be activities at Booster Hall as well.