GENOA CITY — Despite all the controversy, the board still hasn’t officially decided what to do about the structural and space concerns with the village hall.
In a Nov. 19 phone interview, village president Bill Antti said he hopes his board will reach a decision after the start of the new year.
“We’re going to have some meetings in January,” he said. “I don’t know if we’ll have one or more, but we’re going to talk about some options.”
From rumors that the board already has decided to build a new village hall to an attempt to launch a referendum to stop the board from being able to spend certain amounts of money without public approval, the issue has ignited concerns in the community.
Originally, Antti had hoped to have these meetings about how to address the multitude of issues with the village hall this month. However, he said the creation of the 2014 budget proved more laborious than he expected.
But whatever the board decides to do with the building, the funding appears to be in place.
On Nov. 14, on a 5-2 vote, the board finalized a $1.5 million loan to fund whatever it is that will be done to the hall, 715 Walworth St. Antti and Trustees Eric Boxer, Roger Cagann, Karen Bullock and Alan Cornue voted in favor of it. Trustees Ken Parker and Phil Traskaski opposed the motion.
That was how the vote went Oct. 10, when the board approved a motion to obtain the promissory notes for the loan.
In an Oct. 24 Regional News article, Parker and Traskaski said they voted against it because they felt it didn’t send the right message to the public to borrow money to fund a course of action that has yet to be decided.
However, Antti said there was a feasibility study which outlines several solutions ranging in price from $10,000 to $1.44 million. He said the money had to be borrowed by November so it could be part of the 2014 levy, thereby taking advantage of the closure of the village’s Tax Incremental District (TID).
With the TID closing, a significant drop in Genoa City’s tax rate has been predicted. Previously, Antti has said it could be a 25-percent reduction.
“If we put it off a year — and we shouldn’t because the village hall is in poor shape — but if we did and we borrow the money next year, and the taxes go back up after one year of cutting them, to me that sends a worse message,” Antti said Nov. 19.
He said he didn’t have a village tax rate estimate for next year yet, but one was expected for the Nov. 22 public hearing on the 2014 budget proposal. See next week’s Regional News for followup from that hearing.
When asked if he felt the board has been criticized for how it is approaching the village hall issue, Antti said “not a lot.”
“Sure,” he said, that there has been criticism, “but I mean, every time you try to do something, people look at it in many different ways. We’ve got to do what’s best for the village.”
Possible solutions to the repair, space and structural concerns with the village hall, aside from doing nothing, include making repairs, upgrades or adding onto the building; or building a new facility.
Antti said if they decide to just do repairs, “there’s quite an extensive list of things we have to do,” including bringing the building into compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act.
The bathrooms and the entrance to the building would need to be redone, he said.
There are asbestos problems, and Antti suspects there are mold issues in the board room.
“We’ve got at least seven leaks in the board room now,” he said. “I don’t know how many others there are.”
Also scheduled for January is an air quality test in the building.
“We have to do it,” said Antti. “Just for the benefit of our employees, we should do it.”
But providing there are discussions in January about village hall options, how does he think they will go?
“I think the board will make an intelligent decision for the village, for what’s best for the village, the police and the village hall,” Antti said.