Homewood approves incentive to pay for fire alarm

The Homewood village board this week approved a reimbursement for safety upgrades to a local property. 

The money will help pay for a fire alarm system for the a building between 18673 and 18681 Dixie Highway, owned by Vivek Pinto. The building contains Reflections Yoga Center and The Lilly Pad children’s clothing boutique. The new fire alarm system will bring the building up to code.

Board members approved the reimbursement at the Feb. 27 board meeting.

The village will reimburse Pinto for $6,410, which is 50 percent of the cost of the work. According to a village memorandum, DMC Security Services will do the job. The firm, headquartered in Midlothian, was the lowest of three bidders. 

The deal is part of Homewood’s tax increment financing, or TIF, incentive property improvement program. The village has five active TIF districts. Vivek’s property is located in the Southgate TIF District. 

According to Homewood Director of Economic and Community Development Angela Mesaros, the village has issued about 115 TIF incentives since 2002 for projects ranging from major redevelopments to ADA compliant bathroom upgrades for a new business.

The program allows for reimbursements up to 50 percent of eligible costs, capped at $40,000. A portion of the taxes paid by businesses within those TIF districts is retained to fund the programs.

The aim is to help the village retain and attract businesses. 

Mesaros said larger projects for properties within TIF districts are reviewed by the village on a case-by-case basis, but private investment must be greater than $150,000.

Homewood has a similar program for businesses outside of TIF districts, as well as a facade and property improvement program, a retail enhancement incentive program and a go green reward program.

The board also approved the reappointments of Tom Grant and Bill Woelfel to the Rail Committee through March of 2021. 

A pair of budget amendments passed for the $32,267 purchase of a pump and motor for one of the village’s water plants. It will replace a pump that is 40 years old. Another amendment, for $57,474, will purchase a pair of police interceptor cars. One will replace a vehicle that was totaled last year.

Bids from Roesch Ford and Sutton Ford were rejected. The village was able to save money through the suburban purchasing cooperative.

The board also paid $471,052.28 in bills. Mayor Richard Hofeld said more than  two-thirds of that money — about $315,000 — went to the city of Harvey for water. 

Harvey purchases Lake Michigan water from Chicago and sells it to downstream towns like Homewood. Cook County Circuit Court Judge Kathleen Pantle ruled in July that an independent receiver, Robert Handler, would take control of Harvey’s water finances and water-related assets after the city illegally used millions of dollars paying for expenses that were not water-related.

Those downstream municipalities were making payments for water directly to Chicago until a December ruling ordered them to again make the payments to Harvey through Handler.

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