SOUTHERN INDIANA — Vivera Senior Living of Jeffersonville received approval Monday to essentially use the city as a conduit to obtain up to $23 million through the sale of bonds for the construction of 130 units at 2105 Hamburg Pike.

The Jeffersonville City Council approved the bond ordinance 9-0 on initial readings after again being reassured the project will not affect the municipality’s finances.

“This is not an obligation to the city. The city is not on the hook,” City Attorney Les Merkley said during the virtual meeting. “It does not count toward the city’s debt limit. This is just a funding mechanism for the developer to take advantage of some tax benefits that the state statute allows.”

The Jeffersonville Economic Development Commission had previously agreed to issue multifamily housing revenue bonds for the project, which will feature an assisted-living community.

The bonds can be used for the design, acquisition and construction for Vivera’s project. The development commission received a report in June detailing the project and the use of the bonds.

The bond ordinance, which will require passage on final reading by the council, states that the bonds “shall never constitute a general obligation of, an indebtedness of, or charge against the general credit of the city.”

New Albany approves budgets

The New Albany City Council moved forward Monday on its 2021 non-reverting and general fund budgets, as both were approved on initial readings.

The city’s 2021 general fund budget is a little more than $27.8 million. The fire department is slated to receive about $10.3 million next year, and the police department a little more than $9.3 million.

Councilman Josh Turner cast the lone no vote on the general fund budget. The non-reverting budget was approved 9-0.

Turner said he sent requests to trim 25 line items from the budget, and that those requests weren’t met.

“I’m thinking about the future,” Turner said. “With the way this pandemic was, one thing we should learn is we should be prepared for the emergency. There’s no telling economically what’s going to happen with COVID. Even if the virus itself ends, where are we going to be in two years?”

Turner said he would be open to changing his vote before the final reading if adjustments are made.

One change that occurred before the meeting was the addition of a 2% pay increase for employees. Initially, salaries were frozen for non-bargaining employees. City Attorney Shane Gibson said some cuts were made in other line items to account for the increases.

“We are anticipating or hoping that the revenue will support a 2% raise in some fashion, maybe not right off the bat, but as we monitor the income,” he said.

Funding for the New Albany-Floyd County Animal Shelter was again discussed as the parties continue to have disagreements over the joint venture.

According to Gibson, Floyd County has yet to pay toward its split of the shelter budget for 2020.

“Which means we’ve had to flip the bill for the entire amount so far,” Gibson said.

There have been issues in the past with the county being late on paying its portion of the bill. Some county officials have stated concerns about not seeing full reports on how revenue from the shelter is used.

The agreement started in 1999 with the sides agreeing to pay their portions based on population.

Councilman Al Knable broached the issue Monday when he mentioned that any revenue from the shelter is placed into a non-reverting fund as recorded in public meetings. Gibson said that amount annually is about $30,000.

The shelter budget has been sliced by about $150,000 for 2021 compared to this year, as its estimated expenses are $636,909.

The budgets will require approval on a third reading by the council.

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