Tax dollars from new businesses along an undeveloped portion of State Road 135 would go into sewer and road projects and expanding park facilities, if Greenwood gets its way.
The city has proposed a new tax-increment financing, or TIF, district, along State Road 135, between Stones Crossing and Whiteland roads.
Money collected from the new TIF district would be spent on projects to improve and replace sewer lines to attract new development, widen, rebuild and reconstruct roads in the Center Grove area to help with traffic congestion, develop new parks in the southwest section of the city and improve and add to both Freedom Park and Freedom Springs Aquatics Center. The city has a list of projects totaling more than $74 million it would like to do.
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But in order to set aside the property tax dollars to do that work, that money would not go to other local governments, including Center Grove schools.
That is a concern for school officials, who already had a 2 percent enrollment increase this year due to growth and said they are expecting more in the future. They are considering when a new elementary school will be needed in the future and how that would be paid for, Superintendent Richard Arkanoff said.
That section of State Road 135 is mainly undeveloped. And the tax dollars from anything new that is built there would not go to Center Grove schools if the new TIF district were approved.
Arkanoff has been talking with the Greenwood mayor about the proposal and what could be done to help Center Grove schools. One suggestion: not include multifamily residential developments in the TIF district, such as apartments and condominiums, so the school district could still receive tax dollars from those developments. School officials plan to be at a meeting next month where the city council is expected to vote on the new TIF district, Arkanoff and school board members said.
Before any money would be collected, the city would have to go through the process to create a new TIF district. At Monday’s meeting, officials told the city council the earliest they could begin collecting money is likely January 2017.
Greenwood has TIF districts centered around the municipal airport, downtown, Fry Road, east of Interstate 65 and the east side of the city. Property taxes collected from new development in those areas are set aside for the city. In the past, the city has spent money on projects such as the new I-65 interchange, the new aquatic center and improvements to roads and sewers.
The money does not go to other local governments, including schools, libraries, fire districts and the county.
That is a concern for Center Grove schools because the school district is mainly composed of homes, except for development along State Road 135. Businesses pay more in taxes than homes.
School officials understand why the city wants to capture the money to develop the infrastructure needed to attract new businesses, but Center Grove also needs the tax dollars from those new businesses, especially with expected growth, Arkanoff said.
“That will directly impact our ability to fund any future building projects. We are growing and know will need to build another elementary school,” Arkanoff said.
Center Grove wants to help support economic development in the area but also wants to make sure the schools can meet the needs as the area grows, he said.
“We definitely want more businesses, that what makes it such a conundrum,” Arkanoff said.
Officials have asked if the city would consider not including multifamily residential developments, such as apartment complexes, in the TIF district so Center Grove could still get property taxes from those developments that send children to their schools, Arkanoff said. The school district also might consider requesting money from the TIF district for special projects, which other school districts have done, he said.
Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers recently met with school officials and said he was looking into their suggestion of excluding apartment complexes and if or how that could be done.
The city needs the money from the TIF district for multiple projects in that area to prepare it for development, he said.
“State Road 135 is a major commercial corridor. It’s going to need a lot of improvements,” Myers said.
He envisions grocery stores, restaurants and retail developing along that corridor, but the city first needs to be able to offer the amenities and services businesses are looking for, he said.
Some of the top priorities are sewer work, including extending sewer lines to that area for development, he said. But the area also needs improvements to streets, sidewalks and drainage, he said.
“We need that TIF funding to be able to build all of that,” Myers said.
The redevelopment commission gave the plan approval earlier this month, and the city council is set to discuss the new TIF district next month.
Here is a look at the projects Greenwood would like to pay for with money collected in a new TIF district along State Road 135:
Worthsville Road reconstruction
Cost: $26 million
What: Reconstructing two-lane county roads along Worthsville Road and Stones Crossing Road into a four-lane boulevard, between Averitt Road and Honey Creek Road. The improved roads would bring traffic from Interstate 65 to State Road 135, continuing the city’s work on Worthsville Road on the city’s east side.
Roundabout at Honey Creek and Stones Crossing roads
Cost: $1.5 million
What: The new roundabout is part of the city’s plan to improve east-west traffic.
Freedom Park and Freedom Springs improvements
Cost: $6.3 million
What: A roundabout at entrance to Freedom Park at Averitt and Stop 18 roads; extending Stop 18 Road through Freedom Park to Brighton Estates; added shade structures, baseball diamonds and playing fields at Freedom Park; and improvements to Freedom Springs, including a wave pool or other amenities.
New parks, park improvements
Cost: $5 million
What: Most parks are in the northern and older portions of the city. Greenwood will need to develop more parks and park facilities in the southwest side of the city.
New trails, bike paths
Cost: $2.5 million
What: Multipurpose trails and road projects that promote walkability will be important for qualify of life.
Honey Creek Road reconstruction
Cost: $7.1 million
What: Reconstruct the two-lane county road from Curry Road to Whiteland Road, including adding turn lanes, so that road can be used by more north-south traffic to alleviate congestion on State Road 135.
Smith Valley Road and State Road 135 intersection improvements
Cost: $6.7 million
What: Eliminate left turns at State Road 135, and install two roundabouts to function as a Michigan left, where traffic comes back to the intersection to make a right turn, alleviating significant traffic backups.
Smokey Row Road, Demaree Road, Curry Road reconstruction
Cost: $6 million
What: Reconstruct a two-lane country road, including adding turn lanes, to help promote development at the intersection with State Road 135.
New fire station
Cost: $4 million
What: A new fire station will be needed in the southwest portion of the city to serve the State Road 135 area as it develops. The city will need a minimum of 5 acres, and the location will be driven by service and run times.
Cost: $8.5 million
What: Installing a new interceptor in the area, which would help during wet-weather events. Rehabilitation and replacement of sewer lines, along with constructing new sewer lines along Stones Crossing Road and farther south to prepare for development.
Cost: $1.3 million
What: Additional stormwater infrastructure and repairs to current infrastructure needed to handle drainage from new development.