City explores alternative NTC project funding
Tuesday evening, the city’s Personnel and Finance Committee unanimously approved an interim City General Fund Loan in the amount of $100,000 to Tax Increment District (TID) No. 11.
The funds would be used for the purchase of property from Russ Davis Wholesale and then transferred to NTC for the price of $1, for the development of a new CDL Training Center in Merrill.
As part of a resolution to be forwarded for council approval in February, the city indicates TID No. 11 was created last May but has yet to generate any revenue.
The resolution further indicates the city’s Community Development economic development fund, originally from a Federal Small Business Administration (SBA) grant to the City of Merrill, is receiving annual loan payments of about $30,000 and could be an alternate funding source.
“At this point TID 11 has no money, but will start generating revenue with the development of the Premier Apartments (ongoing project near the MARC),” stated city Finance Director Kathy Unertl.
“Over all three phases of the Premier project, extra increment generated could cover several things. In hindsight we probably should have had a joint meeting about this between the Committee of the Whole and the RDA. It is possible over the life span of TID 11, there will be other development to cover this $100,000 purchase.”
Unertl recommended interim financing for the project in the form of a short term general fund loan, in the event TID 11 doesn’t generate adequate revenue in 5 years.
“Down the line we have a potential pot of money to be available” she added.
As part of her written recommendation to the city, Unertl states:
“Since Tax Increment District (TID) 11 has no tax increment at this point, I recommend a $100,000 land purchase be financed by an internal City General Fund Loan to TID 11, with a preliminary time frame of 5 years at no interest.
“In five years, there could be TID 11 increment available. If not, this Northcentral Technical College project is a workforce economic development initiative.
“Use of Community Development economic development funds that originally came from a Federal Small Business Administration (SBA) grant, could be an appropriate alternative funding source.There is currently about $150,000 in SBA funds available (annual payments of about $30,000 are being made on a major current Community Development loan, with an outstanding principal balance of just over $300,000.”
As part of the January meetings of the city’s Redevelopment Authority (RDA) and ultimately the Common Council, the purchase of the property was approved based on funding being provided by TID 11.
During the January RDA meeting, mayor Bill Bialecki advocated for the purchase.
“(NTC President) Dr. (Lori) Weyers came to me some time ago with the desire to place this facility in Merrill,” Bialecki said. “We went to Russ Davis Corporate and asked if they would donate the land. They stated they would sell for $100,000. We got back to Dr. Weyers and she decided that was beyond their budget and the project wouldn’t happen.”
Bialecki further indicated he felt the proposal would be an opportunity for the city to give back to NTC, and possibly capitalize on the economic boost brought by the NTC Public Safety Training Center of Excellence.
“I think this is a great opportunity for the city to show some reciprocity for all NTC has done for us,” he added. “It’s not going to do anything for the tax base, but it will bring people to train in Merrill much the same as the safety course has done now.
The matter will now proceed for council approval on February