Follow The Republic:
Bartholomew County officials are considering the creation of a countywide redevelopment commission to spur business growth outside of Columbus.
A county redevelopment commission would cover property outside of the Columbus city limits but would include small towns such as Hope and Taylorsville, county commissioners said.
A redevelopment commission would allow the county to target development efforts in outlying areas through the use of tax-increment financing districts and eminent domain, for example.
“I guess it is really up to us, but we want your blessing to do this,” Commissioner President Carl Lienhoop told the council.
Commissioner Larry Kleinhenz said county economic growth efforts were limited without a redevelopment commission.
Council President Jorge Morales said that the idea of a county TIF district or the use of eminent domain is not acceptable to many residents.
“Those two items scared a lot of people in the county,” Morales said. “I have mixed emotions about it.”
In a TIF district, a redevelopment commission designates an area for growth. Then as growth occurs, it siphons away increasing tax revenues within that area, using that money for improvements.
For example, redevelopment commissions can sell bonds to build roads or other infrastructure within an area, then use the increasing tax revenue from new businesses to repay the bonds.
The downside is that other taxing units such as the county government, schools or library do not see that increasing tax revenue because it is captured by the redevelopment commission.
Columbus has five TIF districts: a central TIF stretching from downtown to Walesboro, the Cole Apartments, Cummins Inc.’s Columbus Engine Plant and TIF districts at Walesboro airport and Columbus Municipal Airport, according to city records. Last year, the city TIFs generated $5.5 million in revenue for the redevelopment commission. The city created its redevelopment commission in 2003.
Commissioner Rick Flohr said he is opposed to TIF districts.
“I know just enough about them to think I don’t want any part of them, but as we are talking about the redevelopment commission, at least if we have that in place and an opportunity comes along, at least we have got the toolbox,” Flohr said.
Eminent domain allows a governing body to force owners to sell their property so it can be used for new purposes to benefit the community.
Several members of the council expressed reservations about a redevelopment commission and its powers.
Council member Ryan Lauer said the county was flush with cash reserves and could finance needed improvements without having to create a TIF district.
Council member Bill Lentz said that the danger was that there would be growth and increased employment, but not enough funding provided to schools and police to support the increasing population.
Lienhoop said the Columbus Economic Development Board would lead the development of the commission at a total cost of up to $43,500. Lienhoop estimated that the county would pay the economic development board an amount not to exceed $25,000 to create the commission, $5,000 to $10,000 for legal counsel from Barnes & Thornburg in Indianapolis and $5,000 to $8,500 to H.J. Umbaugh accountants for financial work.
Think your friends should see this? Share it with them!
Note: All comments left on our sites are first reviewed by an automated comment moderation system. Your comment may take up to 5 minutes to appear. If for any reason your comment can not be approved you will receive an email from this system with a detailed explanation.
All content copyright ©2013 The Republic, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.