By Sue Moore
The Vicksburg Village Council at its September meeting approved an ordinance rolling functions of the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) into the village’s Planning Commission.
It will be phased in over the next three months with the agenda of the commission changed to include the business of the DDA in January 2020.
The collection of funds through tax increment financing, now performed through the authority, will be administered by the Planning Commission. The ordinance changes approved by the council will expand the commission from seven to nine members. Applications for the two new seats will be accepted at that time.
Façade grants and loans for downtown businesses have been a large part of recent DDA agendas. Its members have been the originators and organizers of the Christmas in the Village event since its inception five years ago. They also administer the tax-increment-financing money of approximately $75,000 each year that is used to further improve the area within the district, which includes the downtown area on Main and Prairie streets.
“We believe this [combining of the DDA and the Planning Commission] is the best-practice model for a municipality with our population,” Village Manager Jim Mallery told the council. “This will be a more efficient manner for our sub-units of government to function with appropriate village council oversight. It will also positively impact the long-term master planning and zoning improvements.”
Many changes are scheduled to take place in the downtown area during the summer of 2020 when new sewer and water lines will be installed on Main and Prairie streets. Some TIF money has been earmarked to build a parking lot next to the Vicksburg post office on N. Kalamazoo Avenue in 2020.
In other business, the council contracted with J.L Schippers and Associates for demolition of a fire-damaged house at 421 Spruce Street. It has been deemed a dangerous structure since the fire in 2018, but owners have not been willing to pay for the demolition. The cost of $7,400 will be charged to the owner’s next year’s tax bill. If the owner fails to pay taxes on the property, it goes to the county to collect. If not paid in three years after proper notice, the property would be sold at auction. If the full amount of the sale does not include all of the back taxes and demolition, the difference reverts to the village coffers to be paid, according to village Treasurer Michelle Morgan.
The construction of a third water well in the village has been approved by the Michigan Department of Environment Quality. The village has received a Wellhouse Protection grant from the state for $11,240 which will help to offset the cost of locating the well to serve the village residents and businesses. This third well has become necessary as the current wells are at 70 percent capacity, Mallery said. A preferred site will be researched by Prin & Neuhof and recommended to the council at its October meeting.