By BRADEN LAMMERS
Two hurdles have been cleared to allow the city to use Tax Increment Finance funds to pay for the construction of a new police station along 10th Street.
The city’s Redevelopment Commission and the Planning Commission amended the bond financing plan for the new station, which will allow the city to use TIF money to fund the project.
“The city is in the early stages of [constructing] a new police station headquarters up on 10th Street,” said City Attorney Les Merkley. “The crux of this is to include the police station in those development plans so we can move forward with this,” he said of the plan he presented to the planning commission at a special meeting Tuesday.
But the first step toward approval was cleared at last week’s redevelopment commission meeting.
Following a presentation by Umbaugh and Associates, an Indianapolis-based accounting firm, about how much bond capacity the city has remaining in its TIF districts, the redevelopment commission approved the amendments to two bond resolutions. The resolutions were for the city’s two largest TIFs, the Falls Landing and Inner City Roads TIFs.
“These additions are just amendments to what you did in 2011 for these projects,” said Buddy Downs, bond counsel with Ice Miller, an Indianapolis law firm. “The size of the bond issues are smaller.”
For the Falls Landing TIF, the total amount is $3.5 million and for the Inner City Roads TIF, the bond amendment totaled $9.5 million.
Both resolutions were approved 4-0, with Commission Member James Lake not in attendance.
The same amendment to each fund was unanimously approved by the planing commission Tuesday. The board had already approved the zoning for the plan to construct a new police station along 10th Street.
Despite adding the provisions to use TIF money to pay for the construction of a new police station, Merkley explained the money to construct a new headquarters will come from the Local Option Income Tax fund. He said the city will pledge TIF funds to pay for the project in the form of a loan, but the loan payments, in actuality, will be made using LOIT money instead of TIF dollars.
Either approval does not mean that the bonds will be sought. Downs explained that approving the amendments were the next step required in order to move forward with the securing the bonds if the commission decides to do so.
“Essentially, what they’re designed to do is say we can do the police station in the future, they don’t commit you to issue bonds, all they say is this starts the process ... so the police station is in the plans,” he said. “This is just a necessary step to get to the point where we go through the process [to issue bonds].”
Merkley said the next step will be to seek approval from the city council and then it will go back to the redevelopment commission for final approval before the funds could be used.
Contract extension for Hamburg Pike improvements
Also at the redevelopment commission meeting last week, with some reluctance, the commission approved a contract for Bernardin Lochmueller and Associates to continue inspections for work along Hamburg Pike.
The planning and engineering firm was hired as the inspectors for a project to widen Hamburg Pike to about 38 feet between Dutch Lane and Charlestown-New Albany Pike. The project began in December 2010 and was scheduled to be completed in November.
However, Clarksville-based Gohmann Asphalt and Construction Inc., the contractor for the project, said delays in utility relocations and weather slowed the project to a crawl. The expected completion date for the project is sometime in June.
Commission members said they were all pleased with the work Bernardin and Lochmueller was doing on the job, and the reluctance to extend the contract was tied to issues with the contractor on the project going beyond their anticipated deadline.
“We don’t have an issue with the people doing the inspection, we just have an issue with who should pay for it,” said commission member Rob Stevens. “We believe it should not be us, it should be Gohmann because it’s their responsibility to why it’s taking so long.”
City Engineer Andy Crouch said the money to pay for the additional inspection costs would come out of redevelopment funds and would total $336,000. The cost is on top of $885,000 already paid for the inspection services.
Initially, the road-widening project was estimated to cost $5.96 million, of which 80 percent is federally funded through the Indiana Department of Transportation. Jeffersonville is responsible for 20 percent, or $1.19 million of the project’s cost.
Crouch added that the utility work plan was not met.
“We have to pay because the utilities didn’t hold up their end of the bargain?” Stevens asked.
“That’s where we are,” Crouch said.
Stevens asked if there was a way the city could recover the money from the utility company and Crouch said he would look into it.
The redevelopment commission unanimously approved extending the contract for Bernardin Lochmueller.
Pro Media contract
The Redevelopment Commission approved a $1,700 contract with ProMedia group to build a new website for the redevelopment commission and to update the city’s economic development department’s web page.
The contract was in addition to the contract Mayor Mike Moore signed with ProMedia to be the communications provider for the city.
“That’s separate from the general communications [contract] with the city,” Merkley said. “Redevelopment’s wanting to do their own Internet and website presence to promote properties that are available within the city.”
The additional contract was approved 3-1, with Stevens voting against.
Big Four contract supplement
An supplemental agreement was unanimously approved to a contract with HNTB, the contracting company constructing the ramp for the Big Four pedestrian and bicycle bridge.
Additional costs for work already completed on the ramp totaled $66,100, but it also included a $50,000 credit. Potential additional costs of up to $45,000 are possible to finish the ramp and they will be billed and subsequently offered for approval as they arise.