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Hobart has $1.57 million set aside for interchange project

By Ben Rodgers

HOBART – Due to a previous development failure, the Village of Hobart is set to have more cash on hand to pay for a costly interchange project looming on the horizon.

Village Administrator Aaron Kramer told the village board at its Tuesday, May 21, meeting that in 2017 the village borrowed $1.57 million for a development that fell though in Tax Incremental Financing District No. 1, money currently sitting in the bank ready to be used.

TID No. 1 is also home to the State Highway 29 and County Highway VV interchange project, which is due to be completed in 2022.

The tax-exempt bond is not paid by a single entity or business, so it is legal for it to transfer from development purposes to the interchange, Kramer said.

This map shows the State Highway 29 and County Highway VV Interchange change project which was awarded a federal grant for roughly $20 million. Hobart’s cost is projected to be $3.21 million and of that the village has $1.57 million set aside from a previous failed development project. Submitted Illustration

Kramer’s report was part of the municipal agreement between Hobart and Brown County to move forward on the project.

The total project cost is projected to be $27.8 million, with the federal government paying close to $20 million in a federal BUILD grant.

The Village of Hobart is required to pay 11 percent of the cost at $3.21 million.

The Village of Howard will also pay 11 percent for the interchange, Brown County will pay 5.65 percent, and the State of Wisconsin is paying .27 percent, or $75,000.

“Yesterday Paul Evert, the Howard administrator and I drove down and had a one-on-one with the interim secretary of transportation Mr. (Craig) Thompson – he hasn’t been approved by the Legislature – to request the state contribute a little more to the Highway 29 interchange project,” Kramer said.

He said after five hours of driving for a 10-minute meeting, he felt more confident the state could up its ante.

If the state does pitch in more, the costs for Hobart and Howard would decrease.

The agreement also outlined payment schedules because Brown County would act project supervisor and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation would be the project administrator.

Total contributions from Hobart in 2019 include $29,880, 2020 payments are $499,130, 2021 and 2022 payments are scheduled to be $1,342,360 each year.

However, Kramer said he doesn’t anticipate the village borrowing any money until the $1.5 million left over from the failed project is down to roughly $100,000, if borrowing is required at all.

He said the TID could finance the project with funds in the TID account.

“This interchange, like the water tower, benefits the north half of the village,” Kramer said, “The residents in the north half will pay for it. If this works out right, residents in the south half will not be contributing tax payments for this project.”

Kramer also said village staff has been working to minimize costs on the project, such as landscaping, decorations and any additional street lights not mandated by the DOT.

“We want an interchange,” Kramer said. “I want the steak, I don’t need the sizzle because as you get further out, that cone of uncertainty and cost overruns can get further and further out of control. Call me cheap, but I’ll take it as a compliment.”

He also said the village can complete any additional work, like landscaping or lights, after the project is completed at a cost lower than what the DOT would budget.

A public hearing on the environmental impact of the project is scheduled for 6 p.m., June 5, at NWTC.

Kramer said that means the preliminary project work is moving along quickly and the next step will be property acquisition.

The motion to approve the municipal agreement passed unanimously. Trustee Tim Carpenter was absent.

In other news, the village board unanimously approved the purchase of a slide for Fontaine Family Park at an estimated cost of $4,700.

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