KOSCIUSKO — The Kosciusko County Redevelopment Commission spent over an hour discussing the Louis Dreyfus drainage project before tabling the issue during its meeting on Thursday, March 14.
Kosciusko County Surveyor Mike Kissinger attended the meeting to request funding for the project. The commission approved the project in 2017, but at that point, the request was done without any field data or input from the town of Claypool. The request was made in case the flooding reached an emergency level in which case work could be done immediately.
Kissinger explained that the flooding was due to the land use change when Louis Dreyfus moved into the area. Most of the current infrastructure that prevents flooding was installed in the early 1900s when the land was used only for agricultural purposes. The infrastructure was able to keep up without frequent flooding until Louis Dreyfus moved into the area.
“There was no problem with the drain prior to the land use change,” said Kissinger. “I feel it’s just the nature of the beast. That’s why you have TIF districts — so I thought.”
Since no emergency has occurred with the area, a new estimate was made for the project after field data was collected and the town of Claypool had weighed in on the project. A new estimate of $158,000 was provided, which included $16,000 for engineering work which was already completed.
Kissinger noted that another estimate was received totaling $185,300 that contained a 365-foot extension to solve further flooding issues. The extended flooding area affects property owned by Don Zolman’s family. Zolman, who was present at the meeting, explained that his family had farmed the land until Louis Dreyfus moved in. Since that point, the land has flooded past the point of being farmable. Zolman stated that doing the project without the extension would be useless since not all of the flooding issues would be solved.
The request to use TIF district money stems from the fact that Louis Dreyfus produced the TIF money in the first place. Since Louis Dreyfus produced the TIF money, Kissinger said it seemed logical to use that money to fix the flooding issue Louis Dreyfus caused in the area. If TIF money is used, this TIF district would have a balance of $8,000 and the district has a yearly income of $40,000. It was noted that the commission is not aware of any other potential projects in this district.
If the project wasn’t funded through TIF, it would be a reconstruction project. Reconstruction projects are funded by everyone who drains into the system paying their fair share based on usage. Kissinger noted that this would cause delays and funding issues, as the town of Claypool has noted that they don’t have the funds to repair the right-of-way areas of the road that would need to be repaired after the project takes place.
The item was motioned for approval, but the motion died when two members chose not to vote on the project. One of the non-voting members, Ron Truex, noted that he would like more information on the project and be able to see the area.
Instead of approving or denying the project completely, commissioners agreed to meet on-site for more information next week. A special meeting was scheduled for 9 a.m. Wednesday, March 20, to discuss the project.
If approved, the bidding process, which can take between six to eight weeks, would begin. Installation would start late summer and the project, barring weather setbacks, would be completed by the end of the year.
In other news:
- The commission approved signing a letter of support for the Tippy-Chapman Regional Sewer District, which will be sent to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.
- Alan Tio, CEO of KEDCo, attended the meeting to introduce himself to the commission and discuss future project possibilities.
- The commissioners reviewed both Trupointe and Van Buren TIF districts. Currently, Trupoint does not have a balance for future projects, but Van Buren has money which could be used to help the CR 1300N project.
- The next quarterly meeting will be held at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, June 13.