$247K surprise

FORESTVILLE – Complete silence followed an announcement Tuesday night that the village has one year to pay off a $247,000 debt.

The Forestville Village Board entered into an hourlong executive session in the middle of its meeting to discuss litigation and the employment history of certain persons.

Upon exiting executive session it was explained the bond anticipation note (BAN) issued for the demolition of the building on Main Street in 2009 must by state law be paid by November 2014.

Village Attorney Michael Sullivan said there is a lot to explain about how the situation has transpired in the past four years.

“I’m not sure where to begin with this one,” he said.

He said the BAN was issued with the expectation that the demolition costs would be reimbursed by the county.

The county did not honor the reimbursement and Forestville and the village of Cherry Creek together sued the county. The case was later withdrawn without prejudice, which means it could be reinstated.

He said under state statute, municipalities have five years to pay off loans for demolition of non-municipal buildings. He said they have not found evidence that the BAN was renewed each year but said in the past four years the village board has not budgeted any funds toward paying back the BAN.

“So on top of our $105,000 per year budget we are going to have to add $247,000 to the tax levy,” Deputy Mayor Kevin Johnson confirmed. “It is what it is.”

Sullivan suggested several actions which may be able to lessen the blow to the village’s budget.

He said it could contact the county to see if it would be willing to give any assistance on the previous cost of the burial of the debris.

Johnson asked if the lawsuit against the county was reinstated, would it affect the time to repay the BAN. Sullivan said it would not.

He said someone should also get in touch with Assemblyman Andy Goodell and state Senator Catharine Young to see if they would support special legislative action to get an extension on the time to pay back the $247,000. He said that this measure would need to be passed in the state legislature in its next session beginning in January and would be best if it was passed before the village has to pass its budget in April.

Johnson said even a two or three year extension would help the village.

Sullivan said he would write a letter to the county and state representatives about the village’s situation.

Residents wanted to know why nothing had been done about the debt until now.

Mayor Linda Aures said this is something the previous board did.

Resident and former clerk Marcia Peterson said things were being done but no “transitional work” was done between boards.

“A budget should have been put in place every year that had something accounted for for that. The only thing that was in the budget was a quarter million anticipated revenue from another municipality. That’s what I was faced with,” Sullivan responded, adding he would not discuss pending litigation matters in a public meeting.

The board approved a resolution to renew the BAN until November 2014 and a resolution to pay the first $3,000 payment on the principal and interest. Johnson said the board budgeted for this payment.

The board will meet Nov. 26 at 7 p.m.