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Hobart village board adjusts rainy day fund

By Ben Rodgers

HOBART – The Hobart village board approved an accounting measure designed to store excess funds away for future development, or property tax relief, when it met virtually, Thursday, Dec. 3.

Village Administrator Aaron Kramer asked the board to approve reducing the percentage of the undesignated reserve fund, or rainy day fund, from 30 percent of the village’s operating expenses to 25 percent, with the extra dollars going to specific funds.

“It’s not a very sexy proposal, per se, but I think it helps us with our long-term planning, and there is potential for debt relief and property tax relief in the future, versus this money sitting here doing virtually nothing and not accruing much interest,” Kramer said.

He said the village has a few large building projects on the horizon, and by moving the extra 5 percent from the rainy day fund into item-specific accounts, the village will help lower any future costs and protect taxpayers.

“The money is not being proposed to be spent,” Kramer said. “It’s being proposed to be reallocated to two other areas for future debt and future property tax relief.”

This past summer, the village board approved putting roughly $140,000 into an account for a new fire station.

Kramer said a rainy day fund of 25 percent of the village’s total operating expenses will not hurt its opportunities for favorable interest rates when the time comes for future financing.

“If anything, it might look better for us, because they know we established safety nets in these other accounts in case we have cost overruns or want to pay off debt,” he said.

The board unanimously approved a policy amendment reducing the rainy day fund percentage.

COVID-19 closure update

Things at village hall are back to normal after it was closed due to two positive COVID-19 tests from village staff, Kramer said.

On Nov. 18, one village employee tested positive, he said.

On Nov. 20, another employee tested positive and the decision was made to close village hall Nov. 21 to the general public.

The office has since been deep cleaned multiple times, and on Dec. 1, reopened to the public.

Kramer said the virtual meeting Thursday was done out of precaution, and the next village board meeting Dec. 15 will be in-person.

“Luckily we kind of thought this through way back in March,” he said. “We had a plan drawn up. It was really a miracle we got to December before we had to implement it. The big news is we had nobody seriously ill.”

High-speed hopes

Kramer said he was informed by Ideal Technologies the company applied for a broadband grant application involving fiber-optic internet for parts of southern Hobart.

He said the company expressed optimism that it would be awarded the grant, which could increase internet speeds for residents.

“I don’t want to overpromise and don’t think we’ll have enough to deliver publicly at this point,” Kramer said. “We’ll probably get inundated with people asking if they are on the list, and I don’t have the answers. This is not being administered by the Village of Hobart. This is being administered by Ideal Technologies, a private entity.”

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