Rushville Republican

February 28, 2014

County to form Redevelopment Commission

By Frank Denzler Rushville Republican
Rushville Republican

---- — For the second time in recent months, city officials approached county leaders requesting a partnership between the county and the city’s redevelopment commission for a project.

The first request resulted in the county forming a TIF District at the SR 3 and SR 244 corridor near Milroy through the city’s redevelopment commission. The most recent request is for a similar project west of Rushville on U.S. 52 with the possibility of extending city water lines to Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc.

City officials first approached the county on the joint venture earlier this month and revisited the issue Monday. At the time, the county leaders were unclear to a number of facts in the matter, mainly pertaining funding the project and to lost revenue to Rush County Schools, Rushville Township Volunteer Fire Department and two county funds by forming a TIF district. Currently, the county does not have a redevelopment commission.

According to ECDC Director John McCane, discussion on the most recent project began in the fall of 2012 when Pioneer officials inquired on the possibility of extending city water service to their facility. Currently, the Ag-business uses well water, although concerns regarding arsenic levels in the water have been raised. According to McCane in talking with Pioneer officials, digging deeper wells may not correct the issue. During the past 15 months, a number of correspondences between city officials, the ECDC, and DuPont (Pioneers’ parent company) have taken place, and centered on the cost of funding such a project. Earlier this month, Pioneer officials made a formal request to the possibility of TIF funding as a means to supply water and fiber optic lines to the location.

Tax Increment Financing (TIF) has been utilized since the 1980’s as a means for local governments to help jumpstart economically sluggish parts of towns. It became prevalent as state and federal monies became harder to obtain as a means to pay for improvement projects and serves as a means to fund projects without tapping into a county’s general funds or raising taxes.

Most TIF districts are tied to increasing jobs and with the current project that was a subject of concern for county commissioner Ken Masters.

“I am for economic development, but no jobs are going to be created by this action,” Masters said Thursday.

The county leaders and county council members in attendance, agreed to form a county redevelopment commission. By state statute, the redevelopment commission must contain at least five voting members, but no more than seven; three (or four) members will be appointed by the commissioners and the remaining positions will be appointed by the county council. Also on the commission would be a representative from the school board although that appointment would not have voting power.

“As a responsibility to the county, as we move forward, I think we need to be responsible and take our position and form a county redevelopment commission,” county council member Janet Kile said.

Following a lengthy discussion that included comments from county residents and Superintendent of Rush County Schools Dr. John Williams on the financial impact of lost revenue to county schools, the county leaders adopted agreement with the city to partner with their redevelopment commission as a means to begin the process on the U.S. 52 project. As a result of Thursdays’ action, the county can still opt out of the agreement at any time and ultimately will have the final say on a decision to move forward or cancel the project in the coming months.

Contact: Frank Denzler @ 765.932.2222 x106.