News From Terre Haute, Indiana

May 16, 2013

Redevelopment Commission hears TIF districts in good shape

Arthur Foulkes
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Terre Haute’s special economic development taxing districts, known as TIF districts, are in good financial shape, according to a report given Wednesday to the city’s five-member Redevelopment Commission.

Jason Semler of H. J. Umbaugh & Associations, an Indianapolis consulting and accounting firm, told the commissioners each of the city’s “tax increment finance districts” are generating enough new property taxes to cover outstanding debt.

The districts include the downtown TIF district, the Fort Harrison Industrial Park, the east-side Indiana 46 TIF and a small TIF established for Jadcore, a Terre Haute manufacturer.

The downtown and Indiana 46 TIF districts are the most active, with current or future construction in the works. Often, TIF districts help companies and developers receive loans with the agreement the loans will be at least partially repaid using new property taxes generated by the new projects.

TIF districts are “one of the few really good tools that second class cities have to work on infrastructure projects and the like,” said Cliff Lambert, executive director of the Department of Redevelopment, which manages the city’s TIF districts.

New debt and TIF financing is expected to be used to help Indiana State University and Thompson Thrift, a local development company, build new housing for hundreds of ISU students on Wabash Avenue downtown.

About 75 percent of new property taxes generated by that project will be used to pay down debt, Semler said. The remaining 25 percent is expect to be available for the Redevelopment Commission to use for other projects, he said.

Critics of TIF districts believe they, by keeping new property taxes locked up within a specific geographic area, make taxes higher for other property tax payers. Supporters of TIF districts believe they encourage development that would otherwise not take place.

Other downtown projects assisted by TIF districts include Thompson Thrift’s 925 Wabash office building, the Hilton Garden Inn and Candlewood Suits hotels and the Cherry Street parking garage/bus station facility.

n The Redevelopment commissioners also learned Wednesday that the city has received additional funding from the State of Indiana to construct four new homes on the city’s near-east side. The department has already used state and federal funding to build 35 new homes in the area. The housing, which is done in partnership with not-for-profit groups, is designed for low- or moderate income families, said Phil Kesner, a redevelopment specialist for the Department of Redevelopment.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com