BROWNSBURG — The town council here presided over a few hot button issues Thursday night at its bi-monthly meeting, both from a concrete and philosophical perspective.
In what Town Manager Grant Kleinhenz called an “exciting” development, the council approved a joint grant letter to the Metropolitan Planning Organization requesting $9.2 million for the construction of Ronald Reagan Parkway from U.S. 136 South to County Road 300 North. The total cost of the project is estimated at $18.4 million.
Of the remainder of the funding, $6.7 million would come from the Town of Brownsburg and $2.5 million from the county in what Kleinhenz said was a “great partnership.” A decision for the funding could come as early as October of this year, meaning construction could get started in 2014.
“This is a great opportunity for us to partner with the county to get a project done that everyone feels will be a huge benefit to not only our economic development, but that of the county as well,” Kleinhenz said.
If the grant is approved, funds would likely be disbursed in 2016. Kleinhenz said the design engineering for that section of the road is already done. The right of way was obtained by the county and is nearly complete.
Kleinhenz said they had only requested 50 percent of the funding, which is somewhat unusual.
“Usually those are 80/20 requests, but we are being told by those in the know that competition is going to be great and if we can do a 50 percent project, that will score some extra points for us,” he said, noting that a portion of the funding would come from a cash balance in the tax increment financing district (TIF).
That statement led into a discussion of the TIF pass through funds as usage is determined by the Redevelopment Commission (RDC).
Councilman Dave Richardson called for a discussion on the matter even though the council has no ability to direct the RDC to make a decision. Councilmen Rob Kendall and Gary Hood are both a part of the RDC.
“In the past 10 to 12 months, there has been a lot of discussion, meetings, debate, and dare I even say dissention, confrontation, divisiveness amongst parties throughout the community,” Richardson said. “There was at one time the suggestion that the TIF pass through would go down to zero. That would have affected six other taxing units. Each of those taxing units stood to lose money or have that revenue stream reduced. The council was asked to speak out on this issue and up until today we haven’t.”
Richardson called for the TIF pass through to stay the same amount as this year at $14.5 million and that the RDC make the pass through available to other taxing units. He called for a “non-binding recommendation” to the RDC.
Such units include the Brownsburg Community School Corporation, the Brownsburg Fire Territory, and the Brownsburg Public Library.
Councilman Don Spencer echoed his support for Richardson’s resolution and expressed that he has faith that all parties involved will come to whatever decision is best for the community.
“It’s been my desire all along just to have a well reasoned, thought out decision made by the RDC and I trust councilman Hood and councilman Kendall and the other three members of that commission to do just that,” he said. “I’m not sure any of us know what the numbers are regarding that decision. We’re smart folks that are running these organizations.”
Hood expressed concern over Richardson’s motion and voted against the resolution, along with Kendall.
“I think it’s been made clear that the RDC is directed by state statute having the responsibility for deciding what is the appropriate pass through amount,” Hood said. “I’ve talked to Rob and we both believe that it is inappropriate for the town council to pass a resolution on what the TIF pass through should be, and thus we will oppose the resolution on that basis.
“Members of the council are welcome to discuss it individually with any (RDC) member, but it’s not the council’s role to intervene.”
Dwayne Sawyer, town council president, joined Kendall and Hood in voting and the motion failed, 3-2.