Janesville City Council finds money for new façade

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011
— The former Jeffris Theater could get a facelift with help from a tax increment financing district rather than with federal money that could be used for home ownership, rent assistance or health care.

The building is next to the Monterey Hotel, located at the corner of West Milwaukee and High streets.

Community Development Block Grant funds were cut mid-year by the federal government, so the local Community Development Authority recommended money earmarked for a facade project be reduced from $30,000 to $12,000.

City Manager Eric Levitt on Monday recommended the Janesville City Council find money for the grant—either by using $4,000 from a housing ownership program for low-income residents or $2,000 apiece from ECHO and HealthNet. Levitt also recommended using $9,000 from a downtown TIF district.

The total city cost would be $25,000, and building owner Jim Grafft would contribute the rest of the money for the $67,000 project.

Levitt said the project has merit and should stimulate further development in the area. Grafft already had been told he’d received the $30,000 and improvements were scheduled this year.

“I think downtown has been talked about as a priority, and this is a project that would improve the downtown,” Levitt said.

Levitt said the TIF district, which will expire in 2015, has a negative balance, but that it should end in the positive.

Councilman Russ Steeber suggested taking the entire $13,000 from the TIF district.

“I would have a hard time sleeping at night taking money that would go to emergency rent assistance or emergency health care for a building project,” Steeber said. “Those TIF funds are for those kinds of things.”

Councilman Tom McDonald said the city could simply make up the $4,000 from the general fund if the TIF ends in the negative.

“If it needs to be made up in 2015, so be it,” McDonald said. “Hopefully, the TIF will be positive by then.”

The council must formally approve the transfer of money from the TIF district at a later date.

The council approved the remaining Community Development Authority recommendations to revise its budget.

Last updated: 5:09 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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