The Caledonia portion of the Highway V project is moving forward with the installation of a lift station on the southeast corner of highways V and K.
The village has agreed to buy about two acres of land from Twelve Oaks Investment Co. LLC for $68,000. The deal is expected to close in the next few weeks. The lift station is expected to cost $3.3 million. However, this is the first of a two phase project that is expected to total $10 million, said village president Bob Bradley.
“I am very excited this is moving forward,” he said. “This means everything to Caledonia. It’s going to effect the TIF district, development… everything. It’s what I’ve been working on for the last eight years.”
A TIF is a special growth tool communities can use to increase their tax bases by freezing property taxes at current rates. Any taxes generated by development over a specific amount of time – typically about 20 years – are used to pay back the monies borrowed to put in the necessary infrastructure like sewer, water and roads. Once the loans are paid in full, property taxes from the new business tenants turn to the municipal budget and other taxing bodies like Racine Unified, the county and Gateway.
Phase I includes putting in a pump station on Highway V and Highway K, which will pump to Mount Pleasant down V to Highway 20. The second phase includes putting water lines along the same path.
According to village officials, the area has had the most inquiries from developers. That part of the project carries an estimated price tag of $7.5 million, which would be paid by the TIF if a developer comes along. However, if one does not come along, the cost to taxpayers is estimated at 50 cents per $1,000 in assessed value.
Once the lift station is installed, Mount Pleasant and Caledonia will work together to install the pipe in the ground. However, that phase of the project has been rife with opposition from Mount Pleasant residents. They recently directed their attorney to issue a letter to village officials objecting to assessments that could total in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The letter is generally considered the first step in possible legal action if officials don’t come up with a different financing plan.
Original designs called for the system to be closed, meaning residents would not have access and would not be assessed for any of the work. The Village of Caledonia was considered the developer driving the project, so by state statute residents would not be required to pay.
An amendment to the agreement signed by both villages in August 2014, though, has outlined a combination forced (closed)/gravity system that will be open, triggering both the connection issue and the special assessments.
“According to Kurt (Wahlen, Mount Pleasant Village Administrator) things are moving forward,” Bradley said. “I don’t know what that means, but I know the water utilities are trying to bid the projects together.”