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Monroe County Council Gives More Life to West Side TIF District

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The Monroe County Council voted four to three Tuesday night to support extending the life of the West Side TIF district by 15 years. The Council also showed approval for issuing a $3.5 million bond to pay for road projects there. A TIF district allows the local government to spend property tax collected within the district exclusively on projects in that area. The Council meeting was held at the same time as a meeting of the County Plan Commission, which was addressing the same issue. At one point, the Council temporarily adjourned its meeting to attend the Plan Commission meeting and await its decision on the issue. After the Plan Commission approved the TIF proposal, the Council resumed its meeting. Before opening up debate on the issue, the Council heard from Greg Guerretaz, a consulting auditor to the county Redevelopment Commission. Guerretaz discussed tax revenues and expenditures within the west-side TIF. One issue of concern he addressed was the potential departure of the General Electric facility from the district.

“No matter what we talk about on this bond issue, we have to be concerned with GE” Guerretaz explains. “Its not to protect the bond holders its to protect, ultimately, the county”

Guerrataz then explained the rationale behind the proposed amount of the $3.5 million dollar bond. He said there is a need to balance anticipated expenditure needs with anticipated tax revenue, to cover annual bond interest payments. He also talked about why the Redevelopment Commission, which controls TIF tax revenues, had never released any of its TIF revenue to other local tax assessing bodies, such as the Richland Bean Blossom Community School Corporation. Council member Marty Hawk commented on this policy.

“I just have to say the people in Richland and Beanblossom would appreciate a tax relief even if it was occasionally” Hawk had to say about the TIF Policy”

The proposed bond is to help build a road between Daniel’s Way and Hartstraight Road. The county highway department estimates the project will cost four-point-one million dollars. Council president Cheryl Munson asked about this and other possible road projects in the TIF district.

“One thing, that I think is very important and I’m not sure is well understood that has to do with the project, is that the bond will fund”, Muson says.

County Attorney Jeff Cockerill re-iterated that the prime project is the Daniel’s Way-Hartstraight extension. Richland Bean Blossom school district superintendent Mike Wilcox and School Board president Dana Kerr again re-iterated their opposition to the west-side TIF extension and bond, due to the loss of tax revenue to the district. Bloomington Chamber of Commerce president Jim Shelton and Redevelopment Commission chairman Lynn Coyne spoke in favor of the TIF extension and the bond, saying they would stimulate economic expansion and job creation in the district. In the end, the County Council voted four to three to approve the three-point-five million dollar bond.

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