Albion May Become Residential TIF Pioneer

By MATT GETTS mgetts@kpcmedia.com  (Shared with permission from KPC Media).

ALBION — The town of Albion is considering becoming the first community in Indiana to create a residential TIF district to spur housing growth.

At the Albion Town Council’s Oct. 22 meeting, the council approved a $7,250 capped contract with Indianapolis-based accounting firm LWG to investigate the financial costs of creating a new housing development and the expected revenues which would eventually come back to the town.

The town has been negotiating with a landowner over the purchase of between 45-90 acres of grounds. Town officials declined to identify the location of the property because negotiations are ongoing.

During its meeting, the council did divulge the current asking price of $18,000 per acre may be too rich for its blood.

“I just think that’s an awful lot of money,” Councilman Don Shultz said. “I think there’s other ground that could be purchased.”

Other council members seemed to agree.

But council president Vicki Jellison pointed out that even if the sale price for the property was prohibitive, doing such a study could be used if the town contemplates purchases in other areas.

“I would think we would get a lot of useful information,” Jellison said.

Town attorney Steve Clouse said he wasn’t aware of any communities which had utilized recently-passed legislation in the Indiana General Assembly to allow for the creation of residential TIF districts.

“It’s brand new stuff in the state of Indiana,” Clouse said.

Once a TIF district has been formed, the property tax assessments are frozen for collecting entities such as town and county governments, schools and libraries. The tax dollars on any improvements that are made in the district are then captured for use in the district.

The Albion Redevelopment Commission would be responsible for recommending the disbursement of the funds within the district. The Albion Town Council would have the final say on how the TIF monies are spent, but they must be spent within the district.

The study by LWG, according to the letter accompanying the contract, “would provide a comprehensive analysis of he potetial area of development in order to determine both the potential initial costs associated with the property acquisition along with the potential benefits of such development in terms of additional revenues that would be generated by and for the town over time.”

In other housing news, the council learned the proposed development of the Village of White Oaks Phase III-IV remained at a standstill.

At the council’s meeting on Oct. 8, Keith Leatherman, of Monarch Development, told the council he was contemplating walking away from the development, which would have seen 21 new homes built on the town’s west side.

A problem which developed the prior week involving tapping into the sewer main to connect with the proposed development had ground the project to a halt.

The town seemed eager to find a solution, but it won’t come soon enough to see any homes started this year.

Granite Ridge Builders has pulled out of a deal to build homes this winter.

“We had buyers, too,” Granite Ridge vice president of sales Lonnie Norris said. “We had to redirect them elsewhere because we didn’t know when (the infrastructure would be ready).”

Norris said the company would reconsider building in the Village of White Oak next spring.

Leatherman had already removed two loads of construction materials from the site back to his supplier as of Oct. 8. He had another two loads on trucks ready to be shipped as soon as the next day.

Prior to the start of the meeting Oct. 22, there did not appear to be any heavy machinery or materials on the site.

“I’ve developed in Albion for 43 years,” Leatherman said Oct. 8. “This is the first building project in my 50-year building career that I’m walking away from.”

The town council seemed eager to find a solution to prevent that from happening.

Councilman Darold Smolinske said Oct. 8 he had calculated the positive impact to the town, through property tax revenues, and to the school corporation, through growing the number of students who receive state funding, at approximately $280,000 per year.

Smolinske said on average, each home has 1.9 children, meaning nearly 42 students could be going to Central Noble schools through the development. For each child enrolled at the school, the corporation receives approximately $6,500 from the state.

The town reiterated its position on Oct. 22 that Leatherman was responsible for the materials needed to tap into the main again. It also provided Leatherman a quote from another contractor for the price of the work.

Town Manager Stefen Wynn was designated at the point person for all future negotiations on the project.

Also at the meeting on Oct. 22:

• Fire Chief Bob Amber reported his department was called into service 29 times in September. There were 12 days in the month with no call-outs, with the department responding to three times on both Sept. 13 and Sept. 26.

Of the 29 calls, 17 were medical runs.

• Town Marshal Scott Cole reported his department responded to 743 incidents in September. Included in that total were 323 security checks, two theft reports, six threat complaints, one reported burglary and one report of child abuse.