CRETE | The Village Board gave tentative approval to reimburse a local day care center with tax increment finance district funds to rebuild an outdoor deck where children play.
Trustees and Village President Michael Einhorn voted 7-0 on Monday to have the village attorney draft an ordinance that would give the Little People’s Preschool, 1274 Main St., up to half the cost of the project they want to undertake.
A vote on the finished ordinance is likely to come when the Village Board meets again Dec. 9. Under terms set by the trustees, the amount of money the day care center could receive would be no more than $12,000.
Officials with the day care center say the deck serves not only as the main entrance to the school, but also as an outdoor play area for the roughly 65 children who attend the facility.
Despite the unanimous vote of support, the issue created much discussion by village trustees, who pointed out the village Planning Commission that initially reviewed the request did not give unanimous support.
Commission head Karen Tellef said she questioned if the project was worthy of that much financial assistance from the village, and said she wondered if the money could be put to better use on other projects within the TIF district.
“I’ll bet that no one will be able to see this when it is done,” Tellef said of the project, adding, “Does this raise the value of any other property in the neighborhood. I don’t think so.”
Ruth Longfellow, the school’s owner, said the deck is 15 years old, and itself was a replacement for a deck that was built 20 years ago.
That led some trustees to question whether the deck was rebuilt properly if it already is developing significant cracks.
“I have misgivings, but there are worse things we could spend money on,” Trustee Larry Johnston said.
School Director Jennifer May was upset with what she perceived as a hesitancy by trustees to approve the project, saying she thinks it is more worthy than other businesses that received financial assistance.
But Village President Michael Einhorn said the day care project was a worthy use of TIF funds, as he thinks the facility helps make Crete a better community to live in.
“This is not 1960 anymore where mom stays home and plays with her kids all afternoon,” Einhorn said, adding later, “It’s not a huge amount of money they’re asking for, and we have spent TIF dollars on less-noble things.”