A committee of the Vigo County Council is recommending repayment of a loan from the County Economic Development Income Tax fund in one year, instead of spreading payments over 10 years.

Last year, the County Council approved the use of more than $1.9 million from the EDIT fund and $864,459 from a riverboat revenue fund to raise $2.8 million to buy the Vigo County Annex Building. By using the funds, the County Council saved about $1.1 million in lease payments that would have been paid over a 10-year period, Bramble said.

Council President Robert Hellmann, D-at large, said the county’s 2006 budget is funded. The county benefited from higher interest rates paid on investments from the county treasurer’s office as well as a county tax sale last year, the first such sale since 2002.

“Those items put more money into the general fund than what we anticipated there would be in an amount sufficient that we can repay the EDIT fund,” Hellmann said Monday.

“This will eliminate all the skepticism of that somewhat quasi-controversial borrowing that we did and this will put this back as soon as possible,” Hellmann said.

The committee voted Monday to recommend to the full County Council that more than $1.74 million be repaid, as well as $864,459 from riverboat revenues. The council already had appropriated some repayments on that loan amount in the 2006 budget.

Vigo County Auditor Jim Bramble said that the county’s estimated operating balance, or funds remaining at the end of the year if the budget holds as it was adopted, would be more than $12 million.

Bramble said he thinks the county’s operating balance should be at least 105 percent of the tax levy, which would be about $8.5 million.

“I think the resources are there to get that money back into the EDIT fund where it belongs,” Bramble said. “Back when the opportunity was available, the general fund did not have sufficient funds to buy the annex building, but the EDIT did.

“By financing the purchase in-house, it saved us a lot of money versus having to have gone to the bond market to buy this annex,” Bramble said. “Now the general fund is healthy” and can pay back the EDIT funds.

The county has about $1.8 million currently in its EDIT fund. The repayment would double that amount.

“This will help with the Canal Road project and will allow us to do some projects quicker, such as the improvement of the Seventh and Springhill intersection,” said Commissioner President Judith Anderson.

A separate council committee, the special projects committee, unanimously voted earlier Monday to recommend that the full County Council approve $800,000 in EDIT funds to rework the intersection, adding turn lanes, new signals and paving. That includes an estimated $150,000 to repave Seventh Street south to U.S. 41, with a 21/2- to 3-inch asphalt covering on the road.

That project will first require acquisition of right of way, said County Engineer Jerry Netherlain. If right of way is obtained, the county will begin on the project in late August, he said.

Howard Greninger can be reached at (812) 231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com.