County approves Property Assessed Clean Energy financing program
Published Feb. 5, 2020
CENTREVILLE — The St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution to establish a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing program district in St. Joseph County during its meeting Tuesday.
The unanimous approval followed a public hearing on the program. Bali Kumar, CEO of Lean and Green Michigan, the statewide administrator for PACE financing; Bob Storen, president of Allison Financial and the developer of a proposed PACE-financed project in Fabius Township; and Steven Williamson, the founder and consultant of Village Crossroads who would operate the facility, discussed what the program would mean for the county and, in the case of Storen and Williamson, what the program would mean for a potential building project in Fabius Township just outside of Three Rivers.
PACE financing, according to Lean and Green, is a long-term financing mechanism available to commercial and industrial property owners to make their buildings more energy efficient, as part of the Property Assessed Clean Energy Act of 2010 in Michigan. The program is currently servicing 43 local governments, 25 counties and 18 cities and townships, representing 71 percent of the population of Michigan.
The types of properties that are eligible for PACE financing are commercial and industrial properties, projects that would qualify include retrofits, “gut rehabs,” new construction and refinancing, and upgrades that would be covered include energy efficiency upgrades, water efficiency upgrades, and renewable energy upgrades.
The potential project that would benefit from PACE funding—and the reason a PACE funding district was being considered in the first place—is the Gardens of Three Rivers, a licensed assisted living and memory care facility that would be built on Broadway Road behind Meijer just outside of the Three Rivers city limits. Storen said the facility would be “state-of-the-art” for the area.
“With the availability of using PACE, we can build the most efficient building around,” Storen said. “They require X amount of insulation of the roof above and beyond what’s normal, and it really becomes state-of-the-art for efficiency besides just being there for the people.”
Williamson said the facility is expected to have 30 assisted living rooms and 30 memory care rooms in the facility.
One citizen in attendance asked Storen whether or not they have an agreement with the city for a transfer agreement for water and sewer services, and Storen said they have had discussions about an agreement, and have had conversations about the specific area the facility will be located in.
Fifth District Commissioner Ken Malone said having a business such as them wanting to locate in the Three Rivers area, and sees many uses for the PACE financing.
“It’s not only doing green work on new buildings, but it could also be on a renovation project. I can think of several projects that would have benefitted in Three Rivers and Sturgis specifically,” Malone said. "It would help people in the future want to and enable them to put this money out there, because it does bring money for financing for longer periods of time, and makes the numbers work for a lot of businesses.”
Second District Commissioner Kathy Pangle called the program “an extra tool for communities.”
In other business…
- First District County Commissioner Allen Balog announced in his commissioner comments he would not run for re-election to his county commission seat, and announced his intentions to run for the Michigan House of Representatives for the 59th District. According to the Michigan Secretary of State, Balog has not yet filed for a campaign finance committee for his run, but in an interview with the Commercial-News Wednesday, Balog said he intends to file “soon.”
- The commission honored former St. Joseph County Sheriff Brad Balk with a resolution and proclamation commending him for his service to the county. Balk said it’s been “a pleasure and privilege” to serve the county, and that he’s “learned a lot” over his years of service.
- The commissioners approved a request from the Department of Health and Human Services to amend the Child Care Fund Budget.
- The commissioners heard the annual report for the Michigan State University Extension from Extension Coordinator Julie Pioch. In addition, an agreement for Extension services for 2020 was approved by the commissioners.
- The commissioners approved a Homeland Security Intergovernmental Agreement between St. Joseph County and Van Buren County.
- The commissioners approved exceptions to the county hiring freeze for an MSU Extension secretary, an Animal Control support assistant and a Family Division caseworker.
Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 23 or firstname.lastname@example.org.