As development continues moving south along a busy Center Grove area road, the school district won’t get the tax dollars from new shops, restaurants and businesses.
And school officials’ proposal to be able to collect the property taxes from new apartments, which would send students to Center Grove schools, was turned down, too.
Greenwood City Council members gave final approval to creating a new tax-increment financing, or TIF, district on 4,000 acres of mostly undeveloped land along State Road 135 between Whiteland and Stones Crossing roads. Their plan is to set aside property taxes from future development to help fund more than $75 million in projects to improve roads, sewers and parks.
When that TIF district is created and new development comes to the area, other local governments, such as Center Grove schools, will not collect property taxes from those businesses.
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School officials had asked the city to exclude any apartment complexes or condominiums in that area from the TIF district, allowing Center Grove to still collect that property tax money. But city officials decided against that proposal and instead welcomed the school district to request funding from the new TIF district for future projects, as other local governments have done in the city’s other TIF districts.
Center Grove officials said they aren’t against the new TIF district but wanted to be able to collect property taxes from apartments and condominiums to fund projects to add to schools or build a new school as needed due to growth, Center Grove schools Chief Financial Officer Paul Gabriel said. Without those property taxes, the school district could have to increase taxes, he said.
“I just think based on our growth that we had this year, we are concerned we can’t plan properly, whether it’s new buildings or remodeling old spaces,” Gabriel said.
School officials still hope they can persuade the city to give them a little more, including setting aside property taxes collected if apartments are built.
In the next month, the city and school district will delve more into how they can work together. School officials would like the city to allocate a certain amount of money, such as what is collected if apartments or condominiums are developed, specifically for Center Grove, as opposed to asking the redevelopment commission for funding every time the school district wants to do a project, Gabriel said.
“I think it’s a different approach, but I think it’s possible,” Gabriel said. “If we could establish an agreement that would redirect assessed value from local apartments, that would protect us.”
The city council voted 5-2 to give final approval to the new TIF district. Council members Bruce Armstrong and Ron Bates voted against the agreement. Armstrong said he doesn’t like TIF districts because of the funding they take away from the school districts, regardless of if funding is available from the redevelopment commission.
“I have seen what harm a TIF district does,” Armstrong said. “I’ve seen what they do to schools, and I think the creation of another TIF district is bad for Greenwood.”
The new TIF district would begin collecting property taxes from new development in that area starting in 2017.
Once the new TIF district is in place, Center Grove won’t collect property taxes from new development that goes into that area but can ask for funding for projects, such as improved Wi-Fi equipment, as Clark-Pleasant schools did, and improvements to parking lots or sidewalks, as the Greenwood library did.
“The redevelopment commission has shown a willingness and eagerness to fund school projects,” said city council member Mike Campbell, who is also a member of the redevelopment commission.
The city would partner with Center Grove schools to spend TIF dollars on projects that are mutually beneficial, but what type of projects and how much would be spent will be up to the redevelopment commission, council member Brent Corey said.
City officials argued the deal was better for the school district than allowing it to collect money from new apartments or condominiums that are developed because there is no guarantee that those developments would ever be built in the area. The school district could still get funding from the redevelopment commission, whereas if no apartments or condos were ever developed, Center Grove wouldn’t have property taxes to collect.
Center Grove schools could potentially receive more money from the redevelopment commission for projects than it would collect on apartments or condos, city council member Ezra Hill said.
As part of the proposal to create a new tax-increment financing district in Greenwood, the city agreed to work with Center Grove schools on projects. Here is a look at the agreement:
Why: A new TIF district in Greenwood would collect property taxes from new development along State Road 135, between Whiteland and Stones Crossing roads. Center Grove schools would not get that tax money, so the city agreed to work with the school district to help it fund projects.
What projects: Center Grove officials are mainly concerned about capital projects, such as additions, expansions and renovations at school buildings and a future new elementary school.
How much: School and city officials are still discussing how the agreement would work and how much the schools could get.
Here are other projects Greenwood has funded with TIF money after receiving requests from other local governments:
Clark-Pleasant schools: Technology upgrades that would allow better Wi-Fi access at the middle school and high school; $441,000
Greenwood Public Library: Improvements and maintenance to parking lot, sidewalks and a sewer lift station; $310,000