By Chris Johnson

The Pecatonica Economic Development Committee reported a negative ledger entry on a modified FY21 preliminary Budget. The body of elected officials as well as citizen and business representatives met on Monday, March 9.

EDC Chairwoman Marilyn Wilke reported to fellow Trustees Paula Hachmeister and Jennifer Johnson that the spending plan for the upcoming Fiscal Year was still in the works process and it showed red numbers on it.

It was explained that the loan taken out by the EDC to purchase 22 decorative light poles for positioning in the downtown business sector was the cause for the entry.

The payment for the investment in the more artistic nighttime walkway will be stretched out over a ten-year period, based on how paperwork is currently drawn.

It will cost the EDC around $10,000 a year each year, to cover that expense on the scheduled plan.

Pre-payment of debt is something that could be arranged, according to information released at the regular monthly meeting.

The decision to purchase the light posts was one that received the support of Trustees working with Chairwoman Wilke on the Economic Development Committee.

That decision, however, ended up causing the FY 21 spending plan to reflect a red-letter ledger listing.

Wilke reported that the new streetlights currently grace the Main Street downtown corridor.

The overall cost of the project, after an allowed ten-year payback period, was reported to be around $150,000 for the light posts and structural enhancements.

The issue that faces the EDC because of the decision to seek the loan to purchase the streetlights is that they have to continue assuring there will be $10,000 plus per year set aside to cover the debt for the next ten years.

Risk interpretation shows, based on how Economic Development is funded, money will continue to flow into the control of the committee if those who play video machines in town continue to do so, even after a casino comes to life on both sides of the Stateline.

Growth of video gaming has been experienced in the village of Pecatonica over the past few years. Some reports state more growth could be coming with the American Legion under consideration as a possible destination point for players.

Subsequently, similar risk calculators relating to video game playing within the village of Pecationica show that if the players quit chipping in money in town and instead opt for casino action, those funds may not be there to send to EDC to use.

That realization would have the potential to stress a debt and force more creative ways to pay the loan to be sought. That, reportedly, could include the possibility of using taxpayer contributions to help.

Some discussion about limited taxpayer dollar use from funds such as Public Works to help pay down the debt was something Committee Member and Village President Bill Smull said he might consider. “Possibly for some concrete work.”

A worst-case scenario facing Chairwoman Wilke is that funding slows, causing EDC to finds itself on a path that could leave additional red marks behind.

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