The leader of Johnson County’s fastest-growing school district still hopes to get a slice of millions in tax dollars set aside every year or at least not lose out on new taxes in the future.
Clark-Pleasant Schools Superintendent Patrick Spray first asked Greenwood to consider giving the school district money or work out some other way to help pay for buses and other school needs.
Then he asked that an expanded tax-increment financing, or TIF, district not set aside property taxes from a Greenwood manufacturer’s most recent building projects, so the schools would get some of the property taxes.
This time, Spray has asked the city to change a proposal that city council members will vote on next week and instead expand where the city can spend TIF money, not where it can collect it. His next step is to write up a formal proposal asking for funding, possibly including asking for money to replace buses, since officials have said they won’t consider Spray’s requests otherwise.
Spray has met with the
Greenwood mayor and talked
with city council members about concerns. The city boards he’s asked for financial help from have not discussed or voted on his requests, but officials say they’re willing to talk.
“I think we all want to work together, and we are looking at different ways we are able to help them,” Mayor Mark Myers said.
“Clark-Pleasant (Community) School Corp. serves a good portion of the residents of
Greenwood. We naturally want to work together.”
The issue comes down to millions in tax dollars that the schools could use for buses and new technology. The Clark-Pleasant school district needs the cash — it has $116.5 million in debt due to several building projects — and can’t afford to regularly replace buses or buy new laptops for students. About 45 percent of Clark-Pleasant’s students live in Greenwood.
The city is looking to increase how much the TIF district can earn without a plan for the money, which would leave the school district in a financial bind, Spray told members of the city redevelopment commission this week.
Spray and the school district’s financial adviser studied the city’s projected collections for its
existing TIF districts. They estimated Greenwood will have more than $50 million left over in 2027 once it pays for all of its planned projects, its debts and its $22 million downtown redevelopment wish list, he said.
“Why capture more? If the answer is, ‘How much is enough? There’s never enough,’ then that’s why you capture more,” Spray said.
Spray’s assumption that there will be extra money doesn’t consider the cash incentives the city will give businesses to expand in or move to Greenwood, Myers said.
The redevelopment commission won’t respond to the requests until the city has done more research, redevelopment commission president Mike Tapp said. The city attorney, redevelopment commission attorney and controller will compare calculations of the TIF district’s impacts on the schools with Spray and make sure all of the numbers the city and school district compare are correct, he said.
“Buying school buses? I don’t know. But let’s sit down and look at all the facts and the figures and make sure we’re all on the same page. And then let’s go forward,” he said.
Under a proposal the city council will consider for final approval next week, the city would enlarge the eastside TIF district from 2,000 to 4,000 acres. That would broaden where the city can capture the property taxes and where it can spend the money. The additional TIF money could be spent on infrastructure projects, such as street and sidewalk work downtown, in hopes of attracting new development, officials have said.
The city wants to get the expansion approved by March 1, which is the deadline for new buildings to be assessed and added to the county tax rolls, so the TIF district can collect property taxes on Endress+Hauser’s latest building projects. TIF districts capture property taxes on new development in a specific area, diverting the money from other property tax-funded governments, such as the library and school districts. The TIF money is intended to be spent in a specific geographic area on projects to attract development.
The current eastside TIF district surrounds the Interstate 65 exits at Main Street and County Line Road and earns about
$6 million annually. The expansion would add property along Madison Avenue and Main Street between County Line Road and the city’s southern edge, potentially bringing in more money as new development and redevelopment happen.