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Village establishes business development district

This map details Forreston's corporate boundaries (outlined in purple) while showing the areas included in the proposed Business Development District (shaded in green.) Photo supplied.
This map details Forreston's corporate boundaries (outlined in purple) while showing the areas included in the proposed Business Development District (shaded in green.) Photo supplied.

The Forreston Village Board passed an ordinance establishing the Business Development District in the downtown area.

In a unanimous vote Monday evening, the board voted in an ordinance designating boundaries around Ill. 26, Ill. 72, and the downtown business area.

In the business development district, an additional one percent sales tax is established, providing the village with revenue that President Mark Metzger says will be used for infrastructure improvements.

The sales tax goes into effect Jan. 1, 2018.

“We had our public hearing on Sept. 6, and the businesses made it clear that they were in support of the BDD, so long as the funds went towards infrastructure improvements to the downtown area,” said Metzger. “That’s been our plan in the first place, so we’re on the same page.”

During public comment, Jane Koeller, co-owner of Koeller’s Forreston Hardware, asked if businesses that generate revenue into the BDD will have funding precedence over those that do not, since goods such as drugs, groceries, and auto sales won’t be contributing to BDD revenue.

“It’s a fair question, and honestly, as far as improvements and repairs go, we’ll obviously want to give back to the businesses that are giving to us, first,” said Metzger.

After the BDD discussion, Community Funding & Planning Services consultant Sharon Pepin addressed the council regarding the Tax Increment Finance District that has been proposed.

Pepin said that she encountered an anomaly: where as the equalized assessed values of Forreston properties that have been built on or improved upon have gonedown over the last five years, vacant land has actually seen an increase in equalized assessed value.

“This is the first time I’ve ever seen that,” said Pepin.

Pepin showed the board a first proposal to remove those parcels from the TIF map, but the board wants to take a longer look at possibilities.

“Those represent some of our strongest chances for growth - a huge chunk of the reason for even having the TIF,” said Metzger.

The board agreed to have Pepin look further into how the land could be kept into the TIF map, and to discuss it further at a later meeting.

The board meets again on Monday, Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. at the village hall, 102 S Walnut Ave. The meeting is open to the public.

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