By Liz Shepherd
WARSAW — During a Warsaw Community Schools’ board meeting on Monday, April 24, Warsaw’s Community and Economic Development Director Jeremy Skinner presented plans for the expansion of two residential tax increment financing districts to the board.
Under the proposed residential TIF expansions, the property taxes generated by new residential developments go toward funding the TIF. For residential TIF approved areas, these taxes will be encumbered by the city in a special fund for use in the development of residential housing and infrastructure. All other property taxes, including the AV adjustments for pre-existing or non-residential properties over time, will go to the county.
Currently, as an overlapping taxing entity that is impacted, school board approval is necessary for the creation of a new residential TIF area. This is the third residential TIF the City of Warsaw has brought forward to the WCS school board for approval since 2019. The town of Winona Lake also sought WCS board approval for a residential TIF in 2020. these approvals are legally required for the TIF process to proceed.
At the board meeting, Skinner said two existing residential TIFs with the City of Warsaw will be added onto, with 70 acres for the northern TIF and 40 acres for the southern TIF. The northern TIF expansion is northeast of DePuy Synthes on Lake City Highway, near the Hunters Ridge housing addition. For the southern TIF, this would include land near the Park Ridge housing addition, just northwest of Warsaw Community Church and Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory Station 3.
“Warsaw is in need of housing,” said Skinner. “We’re heavily industrial-based but we don’t have a lot of houses.”
With the residential TIF expansions, Skinner said the city hopes to build 180 single-family housing units. The city is also in the process of creating $1.5 million worth of sewer lines to make the construction possible.
The TIF expansions have already been approved by the city’s redevelopment commission and will now go before Warsaw’s Plan Commission and Common Council, before going back to the redevelopment commission for final approval.
WCS Board Member Brad Johnson, who also serves on the city’s redevelopment commission, said the plan is “very sound and makes sense.”
“We all agree that this is the best thing going forward and we appreciate the collaboration from the city and the redevelopment commission with coming up with this resolution,” said Johnson.
The approval of these expansions are a significant step forward in the process. Because of the city’s encumbrance of funds with the purpose of creating additional community housing, residential TIFs reduce the operating funds of school districts, decreasing monies available for upkeep in maintenance and small project operations. Examples of such maintenance can include general maintenance of buildings, technology upgrades, and roof and HVAC replacements.
The WCS board approval is significant due to the 25-year requirement of approval, and forbearance of any new growth from these residential areas during that timeframe. In expectation of this long-term impact, the school board is encouraged by conversations between representatives from the city and school to create a list of shared priorities moving forward.
Discussed priorities initially include street lamps, crosswalks, and sidewalk access to schools in the residential TIF area. The school board is hopeful for the city’s residential development plan and looks forward to future discussions of shared priorities over the next 25 years.
Maps for the residential TIFs can be viewed here.