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May 10, 2013

Consultants present annex impact report

Businesses to see tax increases.

LOGANSPORT — Tax savings brought on by recently amended state legislation regarding exemptions for annexed agricultural land did little to sway property owners in Logansport’s proposed annexation areas.

Consultants assisting with the annexation project presented a financial impact analysis to the city council at a meeting Thursday night.

Council voted in favor of a first reading of a measure annexing two bordering areas in Washington Township south of the city that include about 500 parcels and about 100 homes. City officials say the purpose of the annexation is to harness the economic development expected along the Hoosier Heartland Corridor.

Mike Shaver, president of Wabash Scientific Inc. and members of Reedy Financial Group P.C. presented the report to Mayor Ted Franklin and city council members in a packed city council chambers at the city building.

The Indiana General Assembly passed an amendment at the end of its session last month that allowed for a municipal tax exemption for agricultural land annexed into cities.

According to the report presented at the city council meeting, this exemption will allow most homeowners in the proposed annexation areas to see a savings of about $200 a year in property taxes.

“That’s not going to send them to Vegas with sweets or anything like that, but it’s a savings,” Shaver said.

The report was based on Cass County tax records and trash pickup, sewer, water, stormwater and electricity bills.

As the tax exemption only pertains to agricultural land, the report states businesses in the proposed annexation areas would fare quite a bit differently from the annexation.

The largest tax increase would be incurred by Indiana Waste Systems Inc. at an increase of more than $25,000.

“Exceptions tend to be businesses and there have already been businesses talking to the mayor about ways to mitigate that impact,” Shaver told council members at the meeting.

In an interview after the meeting, Shaver said an example of this mitigation might be using legislation to reduce or eliminate stormwater fees for businesses. Some businesses retain all of their stormwater and yet still have to pay a fee in accordance with their municipality’s legislation.

On this occasion and at previous meetings on the matter, Washington Township residents have expressed confusion over the savings regarding tax pickup after annexation, as many of them either burn their trash or share a service, an element the impact report does not address.

Shaver responded to these concerns by saying that was one of the purposes of preparing the report — to allow people to view it and determine whether it’s helpful in determining whether annexation would be beneficial to them or not.

The report will be available at the city’s website, cityoflogansport.com.

Beverly Spitznogle, an appraiser and realtor who lives in the proposed annexation area, said she held doubts about the figures in the report.

“I don’t believe most of them,” she said. She questioned why the city would want to harness economic development along the Hoosier Heartland Corridor on much of what she feels to be land not fitted for development.

Beverly Maloy seconded this idea. She said she didn’t understand why nonindustrial businesses would want to develop along the Corridor with all of the factories already in the area.

“Why would anyone want to develop a hotel out there when it stinks five days out of the seven?” she said.

A public hearing regarding annexation will be held at 5 p.m. May 20, where city officials and consultants will answer questions and hear concerns of those in attendance. The second of three readings of the measure was tabled until after that hearing.

Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or mitchell.kirk@pharostribune.com.

 

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