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By CAROL THILMONY
Rantoul Press correspondent
Next month the village board will most likely vote to certify for the April election a ballot item asking residents if they wish to participate in electric aggregation.
The board heard a presentation Thursday from Deb Lucas of Integrys — a third-party electric supplier that already supplies Champaign, St. Joseph, Vermilion County and soon Paxton. The company promises substantial savings over current Ameren rates.
If the ballot issue passes, Integrys automatically becomes the new supplier unless residents exercise their right to opt out. Integrys offers municipalities what it calls a “turn-key” operation whereby the company does all the preliminary work to educate the public about the aggregation process. Once residents vote for aggregation, the company locks in an electric rate for an agreed period of time and residents are switched to Integrys.
The company does not charge for the preliminary work. Lucas said that after deregulation and state law that allows aggregation, about 80 percent of nonresidential customers and 60 percent of residential customers in Illinois are served by third parties. Integrys is the second-largest aggregator in the state and will soon serve the city of Chicago.
In other business, the board annexed three pieces of property that are being added to the village’s third tax increment financing district. Earlier in the week, the school board in a special meeting voted to request annexation of property it owns to the village. The village board will officially approve the implementation of the TIF in January.
The school district owns 18 acres of extra land that it purchased when it remodeled an existing building there for a new bus garage.
The proposed TIF area will consist of 40 acres, mostly farmland, north of U.S. 136 and immediately west of the Heritage Estates residential subdivision that lies within TIF District I. It also includes what would be phase five of the current subdivision and land to the south of the highway where the school district athletic fields are located. The latter two parcels have been moved from TIF I to the new district.
Mayor Milt Kelly has said the primary purpose and objective of the new district is to create new residential areas. Lots in the first four phases of Heritage are all sold, and building is ongoing in the fourth phase.
The school board is still negotiating an agreement with the village on what flat amount or percentage of TIF proceeds will come to the school district.
Resident Lavern Zehr addressed the board about the importance of the Mahomet Aquifer and other towns’ efforts to protect it from the owners of the Clinton landfill who want to dump PCBs there. Zehr passed out copies of a News-Gazette article that told of efforts to have the Mahomet declared a sole-source aquifer.
He said it qualifies because the Mahomet Aquifer provides more than 50 percent of the water supply in the area and that all other remaining sources of water would be insufficient to make up for its loss. The U.S. EPA would make the declaration, but it’s used only when federal funds are used for a project.
But Zehr said the designation can lead to tighter restrictions on the PCB project. Zehr asked the board to discuss the matter sometime soon.
Tax levy ordinance passed
The board passed its 2012-2013 tax levy ordinance of $56,750, which is about $100 more than last year’s.
A water and wastewater committee meeting was set for 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 17, at the Community Center.
Economic development strategy finalized
Kelly updated the board on efforts to spur economic development in the village.
The board and the Fisher Business Association recruited the assistance of the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission to help prioritize a variety of ideas and get the community focused on those that have available resources and strong community support.
A steering committee of Fisher residents representing local government, schools, business, agriculture, banking, realty and development met for a series of three meetings to develop a snapshot of the community, a prioritized set of goals, objectives, and action items and a list of available and potential resources that could help achieve their goals. The group finalized the strategy in early December.
The strategy includes recommendations for manufacturing development, commercial and services establishments, residential development, the downtown area, the U.S. 136 corridor, attractions and tourism, infrastructure maintenance and improvements, beautification, marketing and administration.
The next steps for the village board include reviewing the strategy and developing a short-term and mid-term work plan for implementing its recommendations. The board invites residents to take a look at the plan on the village website, www.fisher.il.us and to participate in activities identified in the strategy.
For questions and/or more information contact Kelly at 217-897-1180 or via email at email@example.com.