Village of Manchester Considers Cityhood

By Seth Kinker,

The relationship between the village of Manchester and Manchester township has always been unique.

It’s one of few municipalities whose borders overlap, thus rendering all decisions made at either level, impactful on the other.

Manchester township has been looking at the possibility of bringing broadband internet access to its residents. How to do so and at what cost has been a point of contention between the village and township over the past year.

The village already receives broadband services and has no interest in paying more taxes on something its citizens already receive. The township has said it has no plans to move forward with a millage that would affect both village and township residents.

“We were told a millage is never a consideration and I’ve got a whole folder full of documentation where it was,” said Village President Pat Vailliencourt. “It’s not totally off the table. You can’t do this and expect us to help pay for it.”

On Nov. 19 at the village council meeting, the council decided to take preliminary steps into inquiring what it would take to become a city, separating the two entities completely.

Over the past year, a townhall has been held between the two and more discussion of collaboration has been seen with members from both boards attending the other meetings.

Cindy Dresch is a member of the village council and also a member of the broadband committee. The broadband committee is a township and village committee formed to help see if it was possible to bring broadband to the area.

Dresch reported a draft of the feasibility report the township had commissioned last May to look at costs of bringing broadband to the area was received earlier this month.

The subcommittee held a call on Nov. 16 to discuss financing options. Dresch reported while the subcommittee decided not to release the information as of yet, the numbers were bleak.

She said it would require a big up-front contribution by those who desire broadband, with thousands of dollars of up-front work as equity to get a bank loan to finance the rest. 20 percent down with 80 percent financed.

Marty Way of the village council made a motion to see what the village could do to become a city with Dresch seconding the motion. Way mentioned it as being proactive for the best interest of the village.

Vailliencourt stated that seniors have come to her that live within the village limits and told her they wouldn’t be able to afford to live in the area, with a fixed income, if a large tax increase were to happen as a result.

“You cannot keep us in the dark. You cannot have a report out there that says 11 million dollars and we don’t have a clue,” said Vailliencourt. “You’re not including us. We have a representative on that committee that’s totally left out of the discussions.”

Dana Andrews, of the village council, voiced his frustrations. With the borders overlapping he wanted to know why everybody wasn’t receiving the information from the study when it affected all of them.

Vailliencourt mentioned that although the relationship has been good over the years, something like this broadband discussion could be the catalyst in souring that relationship if the two entities were unable to communicate better.

Village manager Jeff Wallace passed around packets with basic information on what it would mean, and the work required, to become a city at the Nov. 19 meeting.

“I don’t care whether we have broadband, or we don’t, or how these things work out, city or not a city. This can’t go on like this. Someone has to come forward and say we’re going to work together, it just is not acceptable,” said Jeff Fahey, a local business owner in attendance at the Nov. 19 meeting. If someone isn’t respected or informed as part of the process it has to be acknowledged and changed. Not working together isn’t going to help either of those situations.”

Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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