by Mitchell Kirk Pharos-Tribune
---- — Cass County Commissioners voted unanimously to expand the county’s tax increment financing district by about 7,000 acres to use as a source for funding more infrastructure projects meant to entice more businesses to the area.
The district was created in 2005 to consist of about 1,100 acres. Businesses like ADM Grain, The Andersons Clymers Ethanol plant and Essroc currently fall within the district.
The ordinance states the district will take on an extra 7,228 acres.
The district doesn’t currently have any homes, but the expansion will include the unincorporated community of Clymers, commissioners said.
In a tax increment financing, or TIF, district, tax revenues generated by new development can be used to pay for infrastructure or other improvements in that area.
Commissioners say that’s their motivation for passing the measure, as they hope to collect more funds for future infrastructure projects.
One of these infrastructure projects is repaving 275 West, which Cass County Highway Superintendent Jeff Smith has said has received little maintenance since it was laid down in the 1960s.
In March, the county received a $50,000 grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs to study extending water and sewer services to Clymers.
“Clymers is an area that needs a lot of work,” said Ralph Anderson, a county commissioner, regarding the area’s current water and sewage utilities. “This would provide money for that.”
Cass County Auditor Van Ide said the county’s TIF fund collected more than $477,000 last year. She said the expansion won’t contribute toward additional money collected by the fund until 2014 or 2015, after everything has been finalized.
As TIF funds are generated by increases in the assessed values of properties in the years after a TIF district is established, it’s difficult to estimate the amount of additional funds the district will create after the expansion, Ide said.
“We won’t know until we get the first collection,” she said.
Commissioners said they hope the expansion will entice more businesses to develop in the area.
Dave Arnold, president of the commissioners, said businesses have been looking into setting up shop in the district, but he was reluctant to comment on specifics until agreements are made if and when they come to fruition.
Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or firstname.lastname@example.org.