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By CAROL THILMONY
Rantoul Press correspondent
FISHER — This Champaign County village now has a third tax increment financing district.
The Fisher Village Board Thursday passed the three ordinances necessary to create it and a fourth ordinance that amends the TIF I district because some land was taken from it and moved into TIF III.
The area consists 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.
Land located to the immediate north of the highway could be used for commercial development, most likely retail. But Mayor Milt Kelly has also said the primary purpose 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.
Also, the board voted to certify for the April election a ballot item asking residents if they wish to participate in electric aggregation.
A representative from Integrys, a third-party electric supplier that already supplies Champaign, St. Joseph, Vermilion County, Paxton and Chicago, addressed the board. The company promises substantial savings over current Ameren rates.
The board will vote next month on a pre-election contract with the company. If the ballot issue passes, Integrys automatically becomes the new supplier unless residents exercise their right to opt out. In the contract, 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.
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.
The high school FAA plans to help with beautification efforts, and the CCRPC, for a fee, will do grant application work to seek money for cleaning up Brownfield areas, where industrial and commercial businesses have moved out.
Kelly said the board will work with the business association to create a more friendly business climate. The next meeting of that group is set for 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 19, at the Community Center. Plans are to clean up and beautify the downtown. TIF money can be used for that. Another goal is to use the U.S. 136 corridor to encourage people to turn off the highway by using improved signage and lighting.
In other business, the board:
• will learn after a police committee meeting when that committee will meet in closed session to interview police chief candidates. There are 14 applications for the job. That number needs to be narrowed down for the interviews.
• discussed the new fitness center that is part of the school addition the board has spent more than half a million dollars for in a partnership with the school district. Some good used equipment has already been purchased, entry will be granted with a key card, and security cameras will be installed, but no one will be paid to supervise the center. Community fees have not been determined. The center is expected to open in April.
• agreed to spend up to $5,000 for Donohue & Associates to begin design work for improvements to the fresh water system.
• agreed to pay up to $3,500 to Gallier Electric of Mahomet for exterior LED lighting for the community building.