Town, school corporation work to organize redevelopment commission



One of the purposes of a redevelopment commission is to work in partnership with other entities to generate new economic development with increased tax base and new jobs.

That’s why the Brownstown Town Council and Brownstown Central Community School Corp. officials agreed it made sense to collaborate in establishing a commission in the town.

A redevelopment commission’s work also involves identifying blighted areas, designating redevelopment areas and developing plans to eliminate blight.

The board also would be responsible for establishing a tax increment financing district, which involves capturing tax money from new industrial development or increased property values in the district and setting it aside to fund infrastructure or redevelopment or provide incentives to promote economic development in a community rather than being distributed to other taxing units.

A TIF gives local governmental entities a chance to complete public safety or quality of life projects that attract investments, which increase the overall property value. The district also could attract capital investment and new residents.

The newly formed commission initially was going to consist of the five town council members. But after speaking with school officials, it was decided to add two more members so the school would be represented on the commission.

That unanimously passed during a special meeting Friday at Brownstown Town Hall.

The school’s representatives could be new Superintendent Tim Taylor, business manager Jade Peters or school board members.

Once those members are selected, the redevelopment commission will meet before or after town council meetings, which are at 6 p.m. on the first and third Mondays of each month.

“We just want that seat at the table,” Taylor told the council. “There may be some aspects we can bring to it that you’re unaware of and vice versa. I think the more representation we can have, the better. I think it’s a great show of faith on your end to offer that to us for that involvement.”

Taylor said the corporation wants the schools and town to grow, and working with the council will help accomplish that.

“We realize they go hand in hand,” he said. “We appreciate you reaching out, you sitting down with us and being able to have a conversation that’s going to be in all of our best interests. … We want to have open communication. We want to work together. We want to build together.”

Peters said they have researched to see how a TIF district would affect the school corporation.

“It affects more of the AV (assessed valuation), whereas that may not affect our budget as much as we originally thought,” he said.

He learned a TIF district would have more of an impact on school districts with high circuit breakers. Brownstown’s circuit breaker is around $40,000, so Peters said it wouldn’t be as big of a hit as they thought.

“Our biggest thing was we just wanted to make sure that we were on the same page, and that way, we could work together more or less instead of being on two different pages, make sure we’re doing what’s best for the town and the school because you guys know the school is critical to this town,” he said.

Town and school officials received copies of the proposed TIF district, which can only be established within town limits. The map shows the district running along the U.S. 50 or Main and Commerce streets corridor and including commercial and industrial properties.

Town council President Sally Lawson said in speaking with Jim Plump, executive director of Jackson County Industrial Development Corp., he advised against including residential properties in the TIF district.

Lawson also said Reedy Financial Group, the town’s financial adviser, told her that other areas could be added to the proposed TIF district if desired. That would just require a motion and approval

Creating a redevelopment commission and TIF district also would allow the town to offer tax abatements.

“We’re looking at a package trying to lure businesses in to offer tax abatement … because we’ve got to do something better than what Seymour’s offering to make them want to come here,” Councilman Mark Reynolds said.

Seymour and Crothersville are the only other Jackson County communities with redevelopment commissions and TIF districts. The county commissioners and county council recently met to receive information about setting up TIF districts.

Taylor said the schools and way of life will draw people to Brownstown.

“That’s why I feel we’re in a great position with having these conversations, being a part of the conversation,” he said.

“I agree with that totally. The school system is a big draw,” Reynolds said. “That would just help out tremendously in drawing others.”

When he attended the county meeting about TIF districts, Reynolds said he learned the town could give up to 15% of what it draws from a TIF district back to the school. There, however, would be restrictions for what the money could be used.

“Since they are going to be affected as well, then they have a say in what we do with the money,” Lawson said. “We could also use that not just for streets and redevelopment but new programming and look at those options.”

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