Whiteland council adopts plan for future capital projects

From a public safety building to a sports park, Whiteland officials outlined several potential future projects for the town in a new capital improvement plan.

Whiteland Town Council members adopted a capital improvement plan on Tuesday, along with a resolution allowing the town to appropriate money from the new county Economic Development Income Tax, or EDIT.

The Johnson County Council last year approved raising Johnson County resident income taxes to 1.4%, with a .2% EDIT to primarily help fund road projects under the county. As part of this tax, municipalities get a cut of the revenue. Whiteland is expected to receive around $153,000 from the tax this year.

In order to use these tax dollars, municipalities have to adopt a resolution and provide a capital improvement plan, said Carmen Young, Whiteland director of administration. EDIT dollars have to be used on capital economic development projects, which can include infrastructure, quality of life or municipal building projects.

It is common for municipalities to have some kind of capital improvement plan in place to outline different projects a city or town wants to accomplish over time and the funding officials want to put toward them. Whiteland has never had an official plan on paper, and this was an opportunity to create one, Young said.

It has been a goal for Young and Shaun Young, director of operations, to create this plan since they took over leading the town this year.

“As far as like a true capital improvement plan, we’ve been lacking,” Carmen Young said. “We’ve had projects we know about, but not really putting them on paper and identifying funding sources, as well as a timeline of when we want to get those projects done.”

A capital improvement plan can be vague, and it’s a working document, she said. Projects listed in the plan do not have official approval or money allocated to them yet and are listed to show what direction the town plans to go in within the next few years.

The plan approved on Tuesday lists 18 projects the town wants to pursue. Some of those include large projects such as a $10 million public safety building for the fire and police stations, a $7 million Little League baseball park and a $1.2 million wastewater treatment plant upgrade.

All three of those projects have been in talks at the town for months, some even for years. Different buckets of funding sources listed on the plan include tax-increment finance, or TIF, money, grants, developer contributions and EDIT funds. The baseball park lists Clark-Pleasant schools as a potential financial contributor, as the town and school have been in talks to partner on a sports park project, Carmen Young said.

Three roundabout projects are also on the list at Graham and Paul Hand roads; Whiteland Road and Bob Glidden Road; and Whiteland Road and Sawmill Road. Other projects listed include, “quality of life amenities,” life station upgrades, making a parks master plan, street resurfacing, design standards upgrades and a comprehensive plan study.

The few hundred thousand dollars the town is expected to collect over time from the county EDIT won’t cover the entire cost of most these projects, but it’s money the town should use, Carmen Young said.

“It’s obviously not enough to really make a huge ding in a capital improvement project, like a building a public safety building. But at least it’s a start and it’s another bucket that we can pull dollars from,” she said.

Final say on funding these projects goes to the town council, which approves financial appropriations for the town. They also will have to appropriate any EDIT funds to be used in the future. The resolution approved on Tuesday formally allows the council to do that.