A plan to set aside tax dollars from new development near Greenwood’s newest interchange got its first approval — but just barely.
The Greenwood City Council approved 5-4 the city’s seventh tax-increment financing, or TIF, district along Worthsville Road.
The TIF district also will not exclude multi-family developments, such as apartments and condominiums, as the leader of Clark-Pleasant schools had requested.
Instead, the city told superintendent Patrick Spray if multi-family development were built in the TIF district, they could then consider excluding that property, Spray said.
“Right now, the conversation is they can’t do it. I don’t think I’m upset. I pretty much knew how that would go,” Spray said. “I’m told if something develops they can go back and amend the resolution to exclude a particular development.”
Excluding multi-family developments from the new TIF district would allow Clark-Pleasant schools to collect property taxes on those apartment complexes and condominiums. Families living in the apartments and condos would send their children to Clark-Pleasant schools, so the school district wants those tax dollars to help pay for the services the students would need.
Last year, Center Grove schools approached the city with the same request to exclude multi-family development from the TIF district along State Road 135. The city denied the request, but encouraged the school district to come to the redevelopment commission to request funding for specific projects.
The redevelopment commission has provided similar funding to Clark-Pleasant in the past, paying for improvements to the districts’ wireless internet connectivity throughout its schools.
Now, Spray wants the city to start the 25-year clock, or lifespan, of the new TIF district immediately, instead of waiting until money is borrowed for a project, as the law allows.
But Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers said that would not be wise for the city. Developers might not begin looking at the property near the interchange for another five years, Myers said.
If given final approval, the new TIF district along Worthsville Road would be the city’s seventh and would set aside property taxes collected from new development around the new Interstate 65 interchange.
The city wants to make $104 million in improvements in the area, including new and wider roads, sewer extensions and better drainage, and that would come from tax dollars collected in the new TIF.
Before it could go into effect, the new TIF district would need a final approval from the city council and one more approval from the Greenwood Redevelopment Commission.
The close vote by the council earlier this week was disappointing to Myers, he said. He is unhappy with the council members who voted no, because the slim margin threatens the chance of the TIF district being approved, he said.
“I’m extremely disappointed with the council. I think there is a lack of understanding of how TIF works and how the funding works with council members,” Myers said. “There’s a lot of confusion among a couple of the council members. If they did better research, I think they’d be in favor.”
Council members David Lekse, Bruce Armstrong, Ron Bates and Chuck Landon voted against the TIF.
Lekse cited a study from Ball State University that said TIF districts divert as much as $320 million annually from other taxing units, such as schools and libraries. Landon and Armstrong also spoke against TIF districts because of their impact on schools, by setting aside tax dollars that otherwise would go to a school district.
Adding a seventh TIF district is a mistake, Landon said. Landon said he would vote against the TIF district at the next meeting, too. But if the TIF passed, Landon wants to make sure money is spent in the best way possible to help the city, he said.
Supporters of the new TIF district said that development will take longer to come to the area around the Worthsville Road interchange without a TIF district, and referenced the city’s eastside TIF, which has generated more than $300 million.
“I’m sure ULTA is located on Main Street because of the work done to Graham Road. I’m sure we wouldn’t have Walmart without the work that was done to Emerson Avenue. TIF districts aren’t all about bringing in tax dollars, look at the development they draw in,” city council member Mike Campbell said.
Without the TIF, the area around the new interchange won’t develop as fast as it has potential to, city engineer Mark Richards said.
City controller Adam Stone told council members without TIF districts, the city’s only other way to generate revenue would be an increase in the income tax, and raising those taxes is not up to the city, Stone said. Stone also showed council members revenue created with a TIF, in comparison to the little amount the city would collect on property taxes without a TIF.