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DDA dissolution on fast track in Almont?



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January 09, 2019
Residents of Almont, ask yourself the following questions:

Do you enjoy the annual Holly Day Light Parade? The Heritage Festival in the Fall?

Are you happy that snow removal is taken care of when necessary? How about the landscaping in the summertime?

Do you like to see updated facades on the businesses downtown? Apartments above those businesses rehabbed and ready for rental? What about local dollars circulating in local businesses via events, sponsorships, and the purchase of goods and services?

Do you appreciate the historic flavor of the village, and if so, is maintaining that unique visual impression important to you?

Would you like the parks, benches and decorative lighting you see throughout the downtown district to continue to be maintained and improved? What about the spring and fall cleanups performed by the Youth on Main Street group?

Do you favor the banners and flowers, and the not-so-visible and definitely not-so-exciting infrastructure and improvement projects like water, sewer, sidewalks and alleyways, paving and parking lots within the downtown district?

If you find any of the above a valuable and important part of the look and lifestyle of the village you call home, listen up.

On February 5 at 7:30 p.m., the Almont Village Council will hold a public hearing and a second reading of a proposal to dissolve the Downtown Development Authority, the entity that brings you the items listed above and more. Following the hearing, a vote on whether the DDA stays or goes will take place.

Through a reading of recent board minutes—both from the Village Council and the DDA, this issue appears to have sprung up out of the blue. The DDA's 2018-19 budget was approved by the Village Council in June of 2018, at which time the council thanked the DDA for their contributions. In October of 2018, the DDA Director's hourly wage was increased by the board.

Whatever has changed in the ensuing six months is unclear. Some council members say the DDA's fund balance of $305,000 and the $107,000 TIFA capture this year would help fill the village's economic needs. The need for funds to fix old and crumbling infrastructure or whatever else the problem may be is understandable. However, it seems that taking the drastic step to dissolve the DDA without more discussion, debate, number crunching or public input is rushed. A decision such as this, with potentially far-reaching ramifications deserves a little more justification than what was discussed last week when the proposal was first publicly raised. How will the funds be used? Who will fill the gaps and how will they be paid? Where will those funds come from and how will they be sustained?

Whatever the outcome, it's clear that if the DDA goes, the village will still have to come up with the funds to maintain the landscaping, snow removal, infrastructure improvements and community-centered events—or not.

If any of the foregoing raises questions or concerns, we urge Almont residents to find out more. Call or email your council members, go to the February 5 village council meeting. Ask questions and voice your opinion. If the DDA is dissolved, it is highly unlikely it will ever return. If you value what the entity does for your community, speak up. If you're concerned about what's happening now, let your voice be heard.

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