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Council approves more money to fight neighborhood blight

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
September 29, 2010
— City council members showed how serious they are about improving inner city neighborhoods when the majority on Monday added $200,000 to the 2010 note issue.

That brings the money available for blight elimination to about $500,000.


About $300,000 remained from last year’s borrowing. That money was not spent because the city instead spent stimulus money on blight elimination.


The proposed borrowing totals $7.8 million for capital projects. The council will vote on that figure Oct. 11.


Of the $7.8 million, about $3.5 million would be repaid with property tax dollars through the general fund.


The remaining $4.3 million would be paid with other sources, including special assessments, water utility fees, wastewater utility fees, tax incremental financing districts, the sanitation fund, Hedberg Public Library and storm water utility fees.


A general fund borrowing of $3.5 million would require average annual debt service of $400,000 and cost the owner of the average home assessed at $113,800 about $13 per year for 10 years. However, the impact on the 2010 tax levy would be less than that because some existing debt is being retired in 2010.


Based on the borrowing, debt service is estimated to increase $143,347, or 2.7 percent, in 2011, which would increase the property tax levy by 0.56 percent. In 2011, the owner of the average home would pay an additional $4.66 in property taxes to pay off debt.


The note issue is smaller than other years. Last year, for instance, the council borrowed $16.4 million.


Councilman Yuri Rashkin made the motion to add $200,000 for blight elimination, and George Brunner, Bill Truman and Frank Perrotto agreed. Voting against the motion were Kathy Voskuil, Russ Steeber and Tom McDonald.


Rashkin said the city should seize the opportunity to invest in blight elimination because this year’s borrowing is so low and no major projects are moving forward. Truman said residents often call him praising the program.


But McDonald said that just because the city is borrowing less is no reason to increase borrowing.


Voskuil said her vote didn’t mean she was against eliminating blight.


“We really have to look at this as we have money available right now,” she said. “This is an opportunity for us to really think about tightening our belt and … managing our funds accordingly.”


Perrotto made a motion to omit $250,000 for repairs to the Tallman House. McDonald was the only member to agree, so that motion failed.


Included in the borrowing are:


-- $1.74 million to build and improve streets, including matching funds for the Ruger Avenue and Jackson Street bridges.


-- $1.4 million for public parks, grounds and buildings, including the bike trail from Tripp Road to Eau Claire Road, $60,000; the Riverside Park storage building, $100,000; the proposed transit center, $300,000; general repairs to the library, $50,000; Tallman House, $250,000; consultant’s review of Oakhill Cemetery structures, $15,000; Oakhill Cemetery chapel and carport repairs, $55,000; and maintenance equipment at the golf courses because of changes in the contract, $100,000.


-- $1.22 million to build and improve storm sewers.


-- $1 million for development loans in TIF No. 23 and TIF No. 26. Loans have been made to SARA Investments for 101 E. Milwaukee St. and to 3-D Targets.


--? $805,000 for capital equipment including technology enhancements and library computers.


-- $795,000 to fix and build water mains.


-- $350,000 to build and replace sanitary sewers.


-- $240,000 for odor remediation at the landfill.


Other business

The Janesville City Council on Monday:


-- Agreed to buy property at 176 Lincoln St. The vacant, two-unit rental property is owned by a mortgage company. Staff recommended the purchase for $24,000 and demolitions at a cost of $18,000. The money comes from $500,000 included in last year’s note issue to eliminate neighborhood blight. The property would be offered to neighbors or to a nonprofit agency to build a single-family home.



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