By David Hazledine
MILFORD — The town of Milford took another step toward increasing its supply of workforce housing on Monday, June 8.
In separate meetings held in the town’s community building, Milford Redevelopment Commission and Milford Town Council voted to sign a memorandum of understanding, along with Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation, to embark on a pre-development project with goals of identifying locations and hiring architects and developers.
To that end, Milford Town Council voted to match KEDCo’s $25,000 contribution, providing a total of $50,000 to help incentivize housing development. The council hopes to recoup its contribution when the development comes to fruition. A steering committee composed of representatives of all three entities is overseeing the project.
The memorandum was approved after Doug Ruch, council president who also serves on RDC, expressed concerns leading to additional language giving the town approval of not only requests for qualifications and developer selection, but also project infrastructure requirements.
The concerns stemmed from voluntary annexation, which would be necessary if development was outside town limits. A town ordinance requires developments meet certain criteria for sewer and other infrastructure prior to annexation. Ruch sought assurance the town does not end up on the hook for infrastructure improvements at a later stage in the development.
RDC Attorney Andy Boxberger of Carson LLP also noted annexation before construction was best for RDC so as to “capture as much tax increment as possible” in the likely event RDC created a housing TIF district. Housing TIFs were approved by the state legislature in 2019 in the hopes of incentivizing the creation of more affordable housing statewide. Boxberger and others also emphasized annexation would be strictly voluntary.
Jim Higgins, an advisor from LWG CPAs, also informed Ruch, “annexation does not automatically mean outlay of funds.”
During the council meeting, Ruch mentioned one area business’ planned expansion, noting workers will “need places to live.”
Alan Tio, representing KEDCo, added Milford is “ahead of everybody else” when it comes to workforce housing in Kosciusko County.