PRINCETON — New Gibson County Redevelopment Commission members Larry Michel and Mark Iunghuhn were seated at the commission’s first meeting of the year Monday night.
Iunghuhn previously served as a non-voting advisory member representing North Gibson School Corporation. County Commissioners appointed David Lewis of South Gibson School Corporation to that seat, but he was not present Monday night.
The board re-elected Phil Young as president, Bruce McIntosh as vice-president and George Ballard as secretary, then renewed attorney James McDonald’s contract as counsel for another year.
Michel, a local farmer, told colleagues he agreed to serve on the commission “because I want to represent the taxpayers and to see where all this money is being spent, and if we can do something to make dollars stretch further.”
Michel asked what level of revenue is available to the commission, and McDonald offered to email the account balances to Michel and new Gibson County Commissioners Warren Fleetwood and Ken Montgomery.
McDonald also explained how TIF projects are presented to the commission when Michel asked about the process.
“If the commissioners don’t pass it (a project request) to us, we never even get a look at it,” said Young.
McDonald said that not all TIF boards operate in that fashion, but the local redevelopment commission established protocol several years ago designating county commissioners as the first step in reviewing a TIF request.
He said the redevelopment commission then performs due diligence on projects that are passed on to them for review, and ultimately decides if a project is funded, and at what level it will be funded.
All the funds are also audited by the State Board of Accounts, he noted.
Michel asked about the responsibility for testing the level of valuation which is passed through from the TIF district to the general tax base. McDonald said the redevelopment commission makes that decision each year after reviewing a financial analysis compiled by Baker Tilly Municipal Advisors, and in consultation with school and township officials, since the pass-through decision affects local government units.
Michel noted that the Patoka-Union Township (Toyota) TIF District expires in December 2025. “Should we start working that down?” he asked. “It seems that it would be wise to work that down so it’s not shell-shock to anybody.”
“That’s what we’ve been doing,” McIntosh said.
“With the sun setting (on that TIF district) in 2025...it behooves us to work together to decide what’s the appropriate amount,” Iunghuhn said.
Iunghuhn said after reviewing TIF project account balances that he thinks a committee of commissioners and redevelopment commission members should review the accounts to determine whether any can be eliminated.
Young said he would ask Gibson County Auditor Mike Watkins to attend the February meeting to discuss some of the accounts. He noted that there’s a balance in Southern Hills TIF district account, “but we didn’t approve the TIF district. There are about four accounts that have a zero balance and need to be taken off,” he suggested.
Fleetwood thanked redevelopment commission members for their work and told them there are future projects on the horizon. “The YMCA project is an outstanding project for this county,” he said. “Another project that has crossed my desk is the old gym remodeling project (in Fort Branch),” he said, noting the project could be a resource for adults, youths, families and some sports programs.
“Your commission has done a lot of good work for infrastructure purposes,” Fleetwood said. “I think were going to see some pretty good quality of life projects come to our desk...”
During the meeting, the commission authorized claims of $107,848 and $5,419 to Koberstein Constracting for the U.S. 41/County Road 350 South intersection project; $36 to The Princeton Daily Clarion and $14.48 to the South Gibson Star Times for advertising; $103,399 to Beam, Longest and Neff for the Toyota Lot 4 project; and $237 to Angie Walden for recording meeting minutes.
The traffic signal/turn lane project at U.S. 41/CR350S is completed, and the I-69/Ind. 64 sewer main project near Francisco is about 40% complete. Bids were awarded Dec. 18 for the Toyota lot 4 project.