Nine months later, the I-65 TIF is a reality

After nine months of debate and negotiations, the Johnson County Redevelopment Commission finalized the Interstate 65 tax increment financing (TIF) district.

The district passed the last two hurdles of the process on Monday. The Johnson County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved for the declaratory resolution and the county redevelopment commission unanimously approved the confirmatory resolution.

The process took so long because the district started out ambitiously, with an expansive territory covering all of Clark Township and portions of Franklin, Needham and Pleasant townships.

The mayors of Franklin and Greenwood and the Whiteland town manager were all surprised by the size and scope of the district, and initiated conversations to draw back its boundaries to accommodate future growth of those communities.

After months of talks with the mayors of Franklin and Greenwood, the district shrunk in a way that allows both cities’ plans for growth to continue.

Greenwood will be able to continue its eastward expansion, and multiple single-family and multi-family housing developments that were paused during those talks can move forward, Mayor Mark Myers said.

Franklin will continue to maintain control of the growth of commercial and residential properties on its eastside, and will have the county as an ally as the city prepares to ask the Indiana Department of Transportation for a new Interstate 65 exit at Earlywood Drive, Mayor Steve Barnett said.

Whiteland leaders did not participate much in negotiations. The map still includes all of the annexed parcels in Whiteland, and everything east of the I-65 and Whiteland Road interchange.

The county earlier this year joined cities and towns in the practice of establishing tax-increment financing (TIF) districts with the Interstate 69 TIF.

In a TIF, a redevelopment commission has the ability to create and fix roads, buildings, parks, trails and utility infrastructure within an established area, using revenue generated within that area.

The redevelopment commission will not be able to do any projects until development starts to occur within the districts. That’s because money for projects comes from new commercial or industrial construction or that occurs within the district or redevelopment of an existing non-residential structure.

Regardless of development, existing tax revenue will continue to flow to taxing units, such as libraries, public safety agencies and schools. A percentage of future tax revenue will be redirected to the redevelopment commission’s budget for future projects.

Though the money is not there yet, the commission plans to start preparing for development in the area next year, said Rob Henderson, a member of the redevelopment commission and Johnson County Council. Since the TIF map covers mostly rural areas that lack utility infrastructure and may not be on a road fit to accommodate large delivery trucks or tractor-trailers, considerable groundwork will need to be laid to prepare the area.

Since the commission was able to collaborate with the cities and towns on the map, there is hope that momentum will continue in the future, Henderson said.

“Now we are going to get into the meat and bones of how we are going to do this,” he said. “That will be a key focus on 2022: how we (will) formalize and organize that aspect of it and start working with cities and towns.”

The city of Greenwood has submitted an interlocal agreement for the commission, and other county boards to consider that outlines how the city and county can work together in the future.

The agreement is something that Greenwood officials asked for during the negotiations to ensure details of the partnership between the city and county are maintained as elected leadership changes over time, Henderson said.

Franklin and Whiteland didn’t ask for an interlocal agreement during the negotiations, and have not introduced one at this time. However, the county is willing to consider entering one if those community leaders would like to formalize the working relationship, he said.