News and Tribune

June 17, 2014

River Ridge: There are no excess funds; Clark County commissioner still plans to file related lawsuit

Commerce Center doesn’t have any extra cash to spare for municipalities

By ELIZABETH BEILMAN
elizabeth.beilman@newsandtribune.com

JEFFERSONVILLE — The River Ridge Development Authority determined it has no excess funds or excess values in its taxing district to share with local municipalities because of its long list of projects.

The board unanimously approved the resolution during its meeting Monday despite Clark County Commissioner John Perkins’ belief that River Ridge can and should spread its wealth.

“I’d like to see the definition of excess and I guess I’d like the county and the different municipalities that participated share [in] some of the prosperity if there is some,” said Perkins, who plans to file a lawsuit against River Ridge as both a private citizen and public figure.

Paul Wheatley, River Ridge marketing and finance director, said with $13.5 million in current unfunded projects and $300 million in future unfunded projects, River Ridge doesn’t have any extra cash to spare.

“Yes, we’ve been successful, we’ve added a number of projects here, but we’ve got a large hill to climb,” Wheatley said.

Perkins’ belief that River Ridge should split its revenue with Clark County, Jeffersonville, Charlestown and Utica is based on an interlocal agreement signed in 1998.

The purposes of the agreement that created River Ridge were “to establish a cooperative local approach to economic development of the [former Indiana Army Ammunition Plant] property.” According to the document, “Should there ever exist a capability by the Joint Reuse Authority [River Ridge Development Authority] to distribute what the Joint Reuse Authority deems to be ‘excess funds’ ... the parties should receive dividends.”

“It was always part of the thinking that at some point, that some funds would be distributed to the county and to the local municipalities,” Perkins said.

Wheatley said he doesn’t see River Ridge having excess funds until “down the road.”

“I would define excess funds as funds of which we have [after] we’ve completed our mission and it’s time to unwind River Ridge as a whole, when literally there are not any additional infrastructure projects, no more demo, all of our land has been transferred from the Army,” he said.

Some of River Ridge’s current projects that have no funding dedicated include removal of bunkers, demolitions and Army repayments.

“That’s literally the tip of the iceberg for us right now,” Wheatley said.

Future obligations listed in the resolution passed Monday include improvements of stormwater detention and conveyance systems, sanitary sewer extensions, existing road repairs and utility improvements.

River Ridge uses bonds — it just issued $20 million last month — tax increment funds, urban enterprise dollars, building fees and property sale money to reinvest back into its own projects.

Perkins said he thinks the four municipalities in the interlocal agreement should get some of this revenue.

“I think there’s a middle ground somewhere,” he said. “No one wants to see that development slow down. Certainly not me.”

Wheatley said that though River Ridge has not yet had excess funds, it will in the future.

“Certainly that day will come,” he said. “I just don’t think we’re at that point at this juncture.”

Perkins said he is still working toward filing the lawsuit.