WARSAW — After members were sworn in for the new year at the Kosciusko County Redevelopment Commission meeting, election of officers for 2020 took place.
Jan Orban agreed to continue serving as president of the Kosciusko County Redevelopment Commission; Joni Truex will retain her position as vice president; and Bruce Woodward will remain on as secretary. Doug Hanes will be a member of the commission in 2020.
The first order of business in 2020 involved upgrades to a drain in the Claypool area.
County Surveyor Mike Kissinger requested that tax increment finance money is used to upgrade the county-regulated drain to reduce flooding in the area. The project was originally approved in 2017.
“The TIF district for Louis Dreyfus — obviously a major land-use change when it went from agricultural to heavy industrial,” Kissinger said. “The existing county drain that went through there cannot handle the capacity it needs to be now because of that land-use change.”
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 prior to Louis Dreyfus moving into the area. Louis Dreyfus Company is located at 7344 IN-15, Claypool.
“That’s almost the definition of what TIF money is for, is to provide infrastructure,” Kissinger said.
“Long story short, I previously came in and asked the Redevelopment Commission if they would finance upgrading the tile,” said Kissinger. “We came in with an estimate prepared by an engineer for phase 1, and I had an estimate for phase 2. I asked the Redevelopment Commission to finance both of those and they graciously did that.”
Kissinger explained that the cost to complete phase 1 ended up being more than the estimate. This resulted in the money that had been appropriated for phase 2 being used to finish phase 1.
“Now we come to phase 2,” Kissinger said. “We’re not using an engineer for this. This is more of an agricultural setting so my office can do the estimates ourselves.”
Kissinger said he adjusted his estimate based on what he learned during phase 1 and increased the size of the tile due to the expansion of Louis Dreyfus.
The estimate has increased from $25,000 to $37,123 following the expansion at Louis Dreyfus.
Phase 2 will take care of upgrading the last section of county-regulated drain.
“I want to make sure everybody understands — Louis Dreyfus could not have been more cooperative in working with us,” Kissinger said.
Truex asked Kissinger what would happen if the Redevelopment Commission did not approve the request.
“Where would the funding come from?” Truex asked. “Because it’s obviously necessary.”
“What would happen then is we would have a conventional reconstruction hearing through the county drainage board and all of the landowners who drain into this would share the cost of installing the new tile,” Kissinger replied. “It will be done, regardless of what this commission decides — it just depends on if the landowners are going to pay for it or if TIF money is used.”
“I feel that we should be using TIF money to do this because that’s what TIF money is for,” said Woodward.
Redevelopment Commission members gave approval for $37,123 to be used from the TIF fund to complete phase 2 of the project.
County Auditor Michelle Puckett said that because those funds had not been previously appropriated in the 2020 budget, an additional appropriation will need to be done at the February council meeting.
- Woodward suggested that a two-person task force be put together from the Redevelopment Commission in order to come up with pros and cons for each of the three proposals by the US 30 Coalition. Hanes agreed to partner with Woodward to create a list of pros and cons.
- The next regular meeting will be held at 1:30 p.m. April 9.