Calumet DDA moves forward promoting village

Polzien

CALUMET — At lease one candidate for the village council had proposed dissolving the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) before the Nov. 6 elections, and some residents expressed concern that they did not know what the DDA does with the village’s money. DDA Executive Director Leah Polzien said she is aware of those concerns.

The DDA is funded by tax increment financing (TIF), she said, and the TIF mechanism allows for the capture of the incremental growth of local property taxes over a period of time to fund public infrastructure improvements, within the DDA District.

The function of a DDA is to comprehensively manage a downtown district to maximize its local economy, Polzien said.

“This can mean a variety of things, and what each DDA does is often dependent on the particular details of the corresponding downtown district,” she said. “But all DDAs are local units created by local governmental ordinance for the purpose of halting, preventing and correcting deterioration in downtown business districts. All DDA’s create, and implement a development plan, and most use TIF money to complete projects that are part of the DDA Plan.”

Different communities utilize DDAs differently. Some have more independent boards, which work on projects they put together that meet the DDA Plan and community Master Plan, Polzien said. Others are used as more of an adjunct to fund projects a council or manager puts together that have components within a DDA district.

“I think there are arguments to be made for both approaches,” she said. “Calumet is somewhere in the middle I’d say.”

Because snow removal costs are high in Calumet, Polzien said the DDA needs to assist in that activity in the downtown, because it is important for businesses, and that dictates how most of the budget is spent. At the same time, however, the DDA has branched out into areas that the village has not put a primary focus on, such as marketing, addressing blight, building preservation, and beautification projects.

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