Boonville Redevelopment Commission to hold public hearings for taxpayers on fire station expansion

The Boonville Redevelopment Commission is holding two public hearings for taxpayers at 5 p.m., Monday, Oct. 21 at Boonville City Hall on the proposed $1.1 million expansion to the Boonville Fire Department. Those monies will also help with some other utility buildings in the city.

The first public hearing will be on a declaratory resolution and economic development plan for the city of Boonville Area #1, while the second public hearing concerns a proposed lease between the City of Boonville Redevelopment Authority and the City of Boonville Redevelopment Commission.

“The fire department is needing an expansion on their fire station,” said Boonville City Clerk-Treasurer Tammy Winsett Boruff. “And then we have a couple of other utility buildings to house equipment because all of this equipment is sitting out in the cold weather, and you know, you put all this money into the equipment.”

A press release from the Redevelopment Commission states taxpayers should be aware that at their Sept. 5 meeting this year, they adopted Declaratory Resolution No. 2019-1 amending the declaratory resolution and economic development plan related to the city of Boonville Economic Development Plan Area #1, which includes “additional projects, the planning, designing, and construction of fire station and related improvements, one or more storage facilities (e.g. pole barns) for municipally owned vehicles and equipment and park improvements for the city’s parks...and increase the cost estimates for the projects to be undertaken pursuant to the Original Declaratory Resolution and plan by $1.1 million to account for the new project.”

Winsett Boruff said they had to set up a redevelopment area to be revitalized with the money through the Redevelopment Commission, which is where the $1.1 million comes into play.

“That’s how we did the bonds to do the downtown area,” she said. “It’s now a permanent commission and we’ll probably continue to do that so they can do future improvements.”

Winsett Boruff said one of the first things the RDC did when they were formed was decide on whether or not they saw the need for the expansion at the fire station.

“So, they passed an exploratory resolution” she said. “Now, they’ve come and said, ‘Ok, yes, the funding makes sense, we’re going to do all this.’ So now, they have to come back and confirm that resolution saying that, ‘We’re going to do it and move forward with it.’”

The Redevelopment Commission wishes to hear “remonstrances from persons interested in or affected by the proceedings pertaining to the proposed new project and will determine the public utility and benefit of the original declaratory resolution and plan as amended by the declaratory resolution,” according to the press release.

The second public hearing discusses entering “into between the authority, as lessor, and the commision, as lessee, of certain real estate consisting of 135 S. 2nd St. and 410 S. 4th St. in the city, in connection with the financing of the new project.”

Winsett Boruff said it is required to have a public hearing on the actual lease agreement between the RDA and the RDC.

“So basically, they are saying, ‘Yes, we see the need. We are confirming that is the need. We are confirming that is what the money is going to be used for and we agree with the lease agreement and the terms.’”

Winsett Boruff said they had to climb some mountains in order to get to the point of having these public hearings.

“Basically, the way to do [all of this] is to have a lease rental bond, so basically, you’re leasing, kind of like you go to the bank and borrow money to do these improvements,” she said. “But with government, the way you have to do that, is you have to have a Redevelopment Authority. We had to do the exact same thing when we did our sewer plant. We had to develop an Economic Development Board.”

The RDC invites any parties who wish to speak a chance to be heard at the public hearings.

“People can comment on the lease saying, ‘Yes, we think it’s good, no it’s not good,” Winsett Boruff said.

“After the public hearing, which may be adjourned from time to time, the commission may adopt a resolution authorizing the execution of the proposed lease on behalf of the city, if it finds that the service to be provided throughout the term of the proposed lease will serve the public purposes of the city and it is in the best interest of the city’s residents and the lease rental provided for is fair and reasonable,” according to the press release.

The release is speaking on Resolution RDC 2019-3 (Resolution approving & authorizing the execution of a lease with the city of Boonville Redevelopment Authority) and Resolution 2019-4 (Resolution of RDC approving Financing Documents related to Lease Rental Revenue Bonds.”

“So, it’s basically, saying with two or three different resolutions that we’re saying, ‘Yes,’ we’re going to do all of this,” Winsett Boruff said.

Anyone who wishes to may also inspect the Declaratory Resolution, Original Declaratory Resolution and the plan and “supporting data including maps and plats describing the area,” and the proposed lease at Boonville City Hall.

After the two public hearings at 5 p.m. hosted by the RDC, the RDA will meet, hold elections and consider adopting RDA Resolution 2019-1 (Resolution of RDA Approving & Authorizing the Execution of Lease Rental Revenue Bonds.)

“The RDA is a new board, so they have to have elections,” Winsett Boruff said.

This includes a president, vice-president and secretary.

Both the clerk-treasurer and mayor said although there is language that dictates taxes can be levied for the fire expansion, that was mostly put in their for security purposes.

“It’s like with any bonding, they have to secure and say that, ‘If something can’t be paid, we can always levy the property taxes, but we’re not going to levy the property taxes,” Winsett Boruff said. “If we can’t make those payments, they have an option to levy the taxes but, that is not the intent at all, to raise taxes. We’ve already budgeted the money for this.”

Winsett Boruff likened this process to going out and leasing a vehicle.

“We’ve done that many times,” she said. “But, the fire department cannot go out and lease money on their own. They have to do it through the city, which then has to do it through the RDC and RDA. It’s basically some checks and balances between the different boards, so you don’t just go out and borrow money.”

The money already budgeted to pay for this project is coming from the fire department’s equipment fund.

“They do get property tax money, but it’s just twice a year money that comes in, so that money will pay for that — there is no increase,” Winsett Boruff said. “And the other buildings, some of that will come out of the parks, some will come out of code enforcement and some of it will come out of utilities because it’s going to house all of those different equipment.”

Boonville City Mayor Charlie Wyatt said this project has been over a year in the making.

“Because of all of the hoops we’ve had to go through to get it done,” he said. “But, it’s going to be worth it for the fire department.”

Marisa Patwa is a graduate of the University of Evansville with a degree in journalism and minor in political science.

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