By Mitchell Kirk Pharos-Tribune
---- — The city of Logansport and Logansport Municipal Utilities have remonstrated against Cass County’s plans to expand its Tax Increment Financing district, contending the county’s motives are not to benefit the proposed area and that the initiative will negatively impact the city and LMU.
The county’s current TIF district consists of about 1,100 acres off of Ind. 25 southwest of Logansport and includes businesses like ADM Grain, The Andersons Clymers ethanol plant and Essroc.
Cass County commissioners passed on first reading an ordinance that would allow the county’s TIF district to expand by about 7,300 acres in its tax allocation area and about 12,500 acres in its economic development area. The unincorporated community of Clymers would be included in the district’s tax allocation area.
In an interview, Logansport Mayor Ted Franklin declined to comment on specifics, but said the city has economic development interests on land within the county’s proposed TIF district expansion.
“I think everybody expects the Clymers area to be a legitimate point of development,” Franklin said. “The city certainly has interest in developing that area as well.”
In a remonstrance filed against the county’s plans, attorneys Brian Bosma, representing LMU, and Randy Head, representing Logansport, say county officials are trying to prevent “Logansport from being able to benefit from land included in the proposed expansion area.”
Page 2 of the document quotes Cass County Commissioner Jim Sailors from a July 2 Cass County Plan Commission meeting saying it would be difficult for the city to acquire land in the proposed expansion area after bonds are enforced there.
“It’s not as easy for the city to even acquire or do anything with it as long as there is a bond enforced, so that’s what this is really about,” Sailors is quoted as saying. “I mean, if we didn’t do that ... the city has said that, if they get the utilities out there, they’re just going to take it over. Well they won’t be able to then ...”
The document goes on to quote an unidentified female in the meeting stating, “I think we’re going to have to lose this recording.”
Sailors could not be reached Wednesday for comment.
At a public hearing for the proposed TIF expansion Wednesday, Cass County Commissioners President Dave Arnold said the reasons behind the expansion are to attract economic development and that four businesses have expressed a desire to explore developing in the area. Scott’s Square, a truck stop, is scheduled to break ground in the district Friday.
Arnold added providing utilities to Clymers is also among the county’s goals.
“Infrastructure in that area especially needs to be improved,” he said.
Head deferred comments to Bosma, explaining his responsibilities consisted of filing on behalf of the city and that Bosma is taking the lead on the remonstrance. Bosma could not be reached Wednesday for comment.
The remonstrance goes on to state the county’s proposed expansion “will negatively impact” Logansport and LMU, as part of the land within the proposed expansion is within LMU’s utility service area.
“Therefore, LMU may be required to extend services to property within the proposed expanded [TIF] district, but will not have access to the TIF funds generated to construct infrastructure improvements,” the document states.
Lisa Lee, an attorney with Indianapolis-based Ice Miller LLP, working as legal counsel for the county, said the city and LMU will have 10 days from Wednesday’s public hearing on expanding the TIF district to file a suit in circuit court over the matter.
The county commissioners will cast its second vote on the proposed expansion at 1 p.m. Monday in the Commissioners Hearing Room on the second floor of the Cass County Building, 200 Court Park.
Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or firstname.lastname@example.org.