Public has final chance for input on TIF district

The Bartholomew County Redevelopment Commission will wait until later this month to have the final public hearing about a proposed tax-increment financing district near Taylorsville.

Commission members will have the hearing at 6 p.m. Feb. 17 at the Bartholomew County Council chambers in the county office building.

The hearing will be about the commission’s plans to create the Greater Northern Gateway Economic Development Area and designate a 231-acre tax-increment financing (TIF) district. Public comment will be limited to five minutes per person and input relevant to the decision, the panel said Tuesday.

The commission’s vote on the proposal is likely to follow the hearing, although it may come at the next scheduled meeting to give time for members to digest comments, according to commission members.

The redevelopment commission is waiting for an economic impact statement from H.J. Umbaugh & Associates.

The Indianapolis-based firm has a draft and must submit a completed statement to the redevelopment commission at least 10 days before the hearing, said Jason Hester, Columbus Economic Development Board executive director.

If the TIF is approved next month, proceeds from local property taxes in the area, now known as Meadow Lawn Farms, that normally flow to schools, law enforcement and fire departments will be frozen for up to 25 years.

During that time, property tax revenue generated from higher assessed value within the TIF district is used for infrastructure improvements to attract new businesses.

The site in German Township is bordered by County Road 800N to the north, Louisville & Indiana Railroad to the east and U.S. 31 to the west. That property includes a 29-acre parcel that extends out from the southeast corner of the larger area.

Earlier this month, the proposals were approved without changes by the Bartholomew County Plan Commission, the Edinburgh/Bartholomew/Columbus Joint District Plan Commission and the Bartholomew County Commissioners.

Among the 30 people who attended the Jan. 20 county commissioners meeting were a number of residents who raised concerns about the TIF district.

For example, Tom Heller of Columbus described county officials as being “hush-hush, rush-rush” in their efforts to create a TIF district.

Heller’s allegation was disputed by county commissioners chairman Larry Kleinhenz and redevelop-ment commission president Jorge Morales.

Other concerns voiced by Heller include giving a nonelected body too much control over taxpayer dollars, as well as broadening the purpose of TIF districts beyond blighted areas.

But Morales, who also serves on the Bartholomew County Council, assured residents the commission is “moving ahead in a conservative and analytical way.”

Other concerns voiced by the public last week include government intruding on private real estate transactions and the risk of undeserving companies obtaining the land.

Meadow Lawn Farms has been on the market for more than 10 years and hasn’t sold despite active promotion and on-site visits, Kleinhenz said.

Without TIF funds to use for investment, the site might not see development for another 10 or 20 years, Hester said.

For more information

For more information on the Bartholomew County Redevelopment Commission, made up of five voting members and two non-voting members, visit the group’s website at bartholomew.in.gov/bcrc-about-us.html