The difference between a ‘debt’ and a ‘deficit’ involving the Webster Tax Increment Financing district #2 (TIF)were clarified and discussed at length last week by the village board, which had rescinded another TIF district just a few days prior, out of concerns raised that they had not followed all the right procedures in the creation of TIF #3, which would ‘overlay’ the other TIF district.

MSA community development specialist Dave Rasmussen appeared before the board on Wednesday, Nov. 10, as he tried to answer concerns on the board about their current TIF #2, which had been cited recently as being underperforming and failing, with unclear details on how the TIF #2 was really doing, as a whole host of numbers have been tossed around in recent months about what the TIF #2 really ‘owed’ to the village and whether or not the village was in debt to the TIF, with one resident claiming the village owed nearly half a million dollars for work that has been done on the TIF district over the years, since it was first established in 2005.

“First off, that is not a debt, it is a fund deficit,” Rasmussen stated, citing the background on the district, and highlighting numbers showing that while it has not performed as hoped, mainly due to the 2008/2009 recession, it doesn’t owe the village anything, as all the costs have been covered over the years, it just needs more time to recover those funds that have already been spent.

Rasmussen explained the history of the TIF, how it was created to help with possible future downtown projects, infrastructure and expansion. He cited the overall numbers of money spent, $716,794, versus the $81,247 tax increment it has generated.

“Which is to pay down the project costs,” Rasmussen said, adding that TIF #2 had $182,334 in revenues, and while it was been affected by the recession slowdown, the project has been extended beyond its original 2025 termination date to 2031, courtesy action of the Joint Review Board, which oversees the taxing districts – school district, county and community college - affected by the loss in taxes since.

“It hasn’t created enough increment to pay you back yet,” Rasmussen said. “But it is not a ‘debt’, it is a fund balance deficit.”

Rasmussen also highlighted the timeline he had on the creation of TIF #3, which they since rescinded, noting how he met with village president Jeff Roberts and village public works officials to discuss possible future infrastructure projects, from extending Main Street to several road projects and utility upgrades for areas that will have state or county road projects, on the hope of getting ahead of them so good pavement or concrete isn’t ripped up for upgrades.

“We were looking at a funding source, and I suggested TIF #3,” Rasmussen said.

While the creation of that new TIF district created some questions, he said it was all done above board, and followed the proper timelines for public notices, input and the like.

“It’s just that nobody really even paid attention or commented,” Rasmussen said.

The ‘overlay’ issue between the new and old TIF was also discussed, and the general consensus was that while the TIF #2 would likely never fully recover its costs – he showed figures that it was projected to have a final deficit of around $230,000 - the hope was that with a new TIF #3 to overlay it, they could at least try to use that increment and expansion over the next two decades to offset the fund deficits.

With the rescinding of TIF #3, increment generated in TIF #2 will stay in TIF #2, and continue to help with the deficit.

“It’s basically reimbursing as much as possible,” Rasmussen said, adding that without the creation of the TIF years ago, many of the improvements done would never have been possible.

“And no, it is not a debt,” Rasmussen clarified again with a nod.

In other board action

• The board heard a presentation by Laura Neve of the Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC), asking if they would consider having the county ADRC meal site and nutrition changed from the Webster Senior Center to the Webster Community Center in the coming months, for several reasons, including a dramatic increase in rent for the organization, which is run through the county but receives funding from a variety of sources.

Neve said they feed approximately 100 people a day, four-days-a-week through their home delivery “Meals on Wheels” program, and that they have almost all the necessary equipment to make it happen, including industrial-duty large ovens and freezers, even pass-through dishwashers.

The new ADRC home possibility seemed workable to the village board, which will look closer at the implications and project costs before making a commitment.

“We haven’t discussed any possible rent yet,” trustee Tim Maloney said. “There’s a lot of logistics that need to happen first.”

“Rent is probably the easiest part of it,” village president Jeff Roberts said.

The village public property committee will review the request this week, and come up with a recommendation for the full board by the end of December. Neve said their current lease runs until the end of the year, but said they can use a temporary home for a spell in the interim, if the Webster Community Center plan is approved, as it might take a while for the transition to happen.

• The board also had a brief update on their new village office project, which is progressing ahead, as the former chiropractic office on Main Street has now been gutted and awaits a final architectural review and input from the board before they begin with the interior project.

“Hopefully we can lay this all out, to put it out for bids in December,” Maloney said.