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Improvement distict to be considered

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Assistant Editor

Three downtown property owners appeared before the Greencastle City Council Tuesday, encouraging the council to consider the establishment of an economic improvement district for downtown Greencastle.

Property owners Trudy Selvia, Gail Smith and Gigi Fenlon presented the board with petitions signed by property owners in the proposed district who support its establishment. State law requires that 51 percent of property owners representing 66 2/3 percent of the assessed value within the district have signed the petition. Both requirements have been exceeded.

They also presented a map of the district, which would run east to west from City Hall to Market Street and north to south from Columbia Street to Walnut Street north to south.

State law allows for property owners in a defined geographic district to work together to raise funds to pay for services in their neighborhood. This is known as an economic improvement district.

With the establishment of a district, property owners impose on themselves an assessment to raise funds. The fees are then collected through the property tax system.

Fenlon said some possible uses of the district's funds could be tree care, annual flower planting, weed control, snow removal, a part-time maintenance employee and Christmas decorations.

While the district is not a government entity, it does require approval of the city council.

Now that the petition has been presented to the council, a public meeting will be set for Dec. 31 at 7 p.m., the next meeting of the Greencastle City Council.

Upon completion of the meeting, the council will have the opportunity to vote on the measure or consider it for future meetings.

Before the council moved on to other matters, Smith shared her feelings about the district and what it could do for downtown Greencastle.

"I care about this town and I think we need to put a little bit of money into it," she said. "This is a way to do it without putting a burden on the city."

Economic concerns were also discussed in another part of town, as the board heard from Putnam County Economic Development Director Bill Dory on behalf of Heartland Automotive.

Heartland is seeking the establishment of an economic revitalization area at 300 S. Warren Dr. The company is preparing for a model changeover at Subaru and will be purchasing $751,000 in new equipment and will also be adding new tooling purchased by Subaru.

With the economic revitalization area, there would be a seven-year tax abatement on the new equipment, helping the company maintain its current level of staffing.

The board approved the resolution and will host a public meeting regarding the matter in January.

In other business, the council:

* Approved a resolution regarding funds for Ivy Tech construction. The new plan extends the period for matching funds from three to five years.

* Approved a revision to the County Economic Development Income Tax plan.

* Heard from Brad Phillips of the public works department on the end of leaf season and the beginning of snow removal. The city completed leaf season on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, having collected from more than 1,000 yards.

They have also begun snow removal, which Phillips said has gone well thus far. He said they have enough salt to get through December and should have no trouble purchasing more when the time comes.

* Appointed Therese Cunningham to serve another term with the Putnam County Community Foundation.

* Approved an ordinance fixing the salaries of city elected officials.

* Amended an ordinance regarding the size of city departments. The only change is in the movement of Tom Swenson's salary. He will now be paid solely by the utility department, rather than by both the utility department and City Hall.

The Greencastle City Council will next meet at 7 p.m. Dec. 30 at Greencastle City Hall.

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This is the second time I have read in the paper information regarding the BID district and each time it states, "it MAY be used for or POSSIBLE USES for these funds could be tree plantings, snow removal, part-time employee etc. How can you go before a city council and not have a firm plan. What did these people tell the business owners? That their funds WOULD go for these things? Or were they told you will have to pay a fee and we don't want to tell exactly what funds will go towards. All three ladies are business owners downtown and they will SURELY benefit from everyone else's monies.

-- Posted by whodouthinkur on Wed, Dec 10, 2008, at 7:07 AM

whodouthinkur: If you read the article carefully, you would have noticed that the funds are not coming from general taxpayer dollars. All the businesses signing the petition, of which the three women were representatives, have agreed to voluntarily increase their own property taxes in order to fund the projects to which they referred. Certainly they *may* pass along the increase in property tax to customers by increasing their prices, but then that would be your choice to not do business with them, dine at their restaurants, etc.

I believe that the downtown certainly needs to be revitalized to help bring in more traffic to help the stores, restaurants stay in business. This seems like a more permanent solution to funding revitalization projects than other groups, such as Main Street Greencastle, have been able to provide since they rely on donations and fundraising events, which we all know in this economy would suffer.

-- Posted by hoosierbychoice on Wed, Dec 10, 2008, at 7:39 AM

Not all property owners in the proposed district have signed the petition. If this passes city council the property owners will be forced to pay the assessment. Which is paramount to an additional tax. It is not voluntary. Its the business owners responsibilty to figure out how to attract customers to their stores, not another quasi-governmental body.

-- Posted by hardtobelieve on Wed, Dec 10, 2008, at 8:05 AM


Great quality control, in print and online.

-- Posted by Balding Eagle on Wed, Dec 10, 2008, at 8:10 PM

Hoosierbychoice.... Not anywhere in my statement does it mention taxpayer dollars. I understand that it will be an imposed fee! It IS NOT a voluntary increase. The "board" has assessed the fee for local business owners according to the value of their property. I still stand by my previous statement. Give me a "firm" plan and what exactly these funds will be spent on! If you do not come down to the square now because there is no shopping, will a new street light bring you downtown, even if there are no new additional businesses?

-- Posted by whodouthinkur on Fri, Dec 12, 2008, at 2:14 PM

hoosierbychoise....this proposal will include general taxpayers money as this includes greencastle city hall and the uptown parking lots....where do you think city halls money comes from...again, this is greencastle taxpayers monies!!!!

-- Posted by downtown on Tue, Jan 6, 2009, at 1:00 PM

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