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Downtown Dixon business facades might receive $50K

Info on program sought before budget is filed

Published: Tuesday, April 1, 2014 1:15 a.m. CST

DIXON – The Dixon City Council wants more information about a proposed downtown business facade grant program before it votes on its budget.

The program, which would be run by and was requested by Dixon Main Street, would award $50,000 to downtown businesses to restore or upgrade their facades, city Finance Director Paula Meyer said. The money for the grant program would come from the city.

The discussion about the program came Monday night, during the final budget workshop between the City Council and department heads.

The council will vote on whether to place the budget on file during its regular meeting April 7. The budget could then be approved during the City Council’s April 21 meeting.

The city currently has a program to provide low-interest loans to business owners to repair downtown facades. The funds for that program come from the city’s Central Business District tax increment financing (TIF) fund.

The $50,000 requested by Main Street would be in addition to the loan program, Meyer said, and would be given with no expectation of repayment.

Commissioner of Public Health & Safety Dennis Considine said he supported helping downtown businesses, but wanted to see more specifics about the program and how it would be administered before spending the money.

The $50,000 can be included in the budget, and the City Council could decide later not to spend it.

Commissioner Colleen Brechon said the city shouldn’t forget about the businesses outside of the downtown area and should think about expanding the program if it goes forward.

City Administrator David Nord will meet with Main Street to discuss the council’s reservations about the program.

The city is also expected to transfer $1 million from the remaining money the city received from the settlement with its former auditors and the sale of former Comptroller Rita Crudnwell’s assets.

That $1 million will go toward the River Street sewer project, Meyer said, adding that the project will upgrade infrastructure that services about 25 percent of the city.

The city received about $39.4 million total, some of which has been used to pay off three city bonds early, to pay off internal debt and was placed into a reserves account.

The city will have about $11 million, after the $1 million for the sewer project, that it will discuss spending through a strategic planning period, Meyer said.

During the strategic planning, the city is expected to discuss a new public property building, which had been proposed for the budget during a previous workshop but was removed.

Brechon stressed the importance of upgrading the building, which, she said, was starting to deteriorate.

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