Warsaw Council Votes On Annexation and Tax Abatement – inkfreenews.com

By David Slone

Times-Union

WARSAW – The city’s Community and Economic Development, Director, Jeremy Skinner, brought several resolutions and ordinances to the Common Council on Tuesday.

There was a fiscal plan resolution and voluntary annexation ordinance for Granite Ridge; a tax abatement non-compliance waiver and application for the senior housing at 802 E. Center St.; and a resolution designating The Marketplace of Warsaw as a separate allocation area under the Winona Interurban Redevelopment Area to reset the assessed valuation. 

Granite Ridge annexation was introduced to the Council Jan. 18. Granite Ridge is petitioning for the annexation of about 40 vacant acres along the south side of the existing Park Ridge subdivision. 

Skinner first presented the resolution for the adoption of the fiscal plan for the annexation. He said the fiscal plan “goes through the impact on all the taxing agencies, which isn’t a huge lot because there’s really nothing there at this moment.” 

He said the Council has to approve the fiscal plan resolution prior to having the first reading and public hearing of the annexation ordinance. The Council approved it 6-0 with Councilman Jeff Grose absent.

With the approval of the fiscal plan, the Council moved into an advertised public hearing on the ordinance for the voluntary annexation. 

Skinner said Tuesday’s meeting was the first reading and public hearing of the ordinance, with the adoption and second reading on March 7. After the second reading, the complete ordinance has to be advertised in the newspaper, the annexation will be recorded and then there’s a 30-day period after which it will take effect. 

There were no public comments at Tuesday’s hearing.

Councilman Mike Klondaris expressed – as he did at the January meeting – his concern with traffic getting in and out of this new neighborhood. 

“I do feel it is important. All the traffic is going to be, as it is laid out now, routed down Park Ridge, so people living clear, even back by the railroad tracks, are going to have drive clear through the neighborhood full of families and children, I presume, and I don’t know if there’s a way to have any access to 200 South or even State Road 15,” he said. 

Skinner said, “We share the same concerns. We’re actually meeting with them, I believe, tomorrow to discuss that.”

“A third access point?” Klondaris asked, and Skinner said yes. 

Mayor Joe Thallemer said that conversation will be a “little more robust” when it’s brought before the Plan Commission, but Klondaris made a “good point.”

The Council approved the ordinance for the annexation 6-0 on first reading. The second reading will be March 7. 

Next, Skinner asked the Council to approve a resolution for a tax abatement non-compliance waiver and application for the new senior housing facility known as 802 Center at 802 E. Center St.

He said, “A few years ago, you approved a tax abatement for the senior housing on Center Street. I think it might have been 2019. We had this project lined up for a couple years and we had a couple applications in … maybe the first application might have went in like 2018 or 2017. We weren’t awarded money then. We applied again the following year, we were awarded money. So, basically, what you have here is them seeking a non-compliance.”

What happened, Skinner said, is that 802 Center didn’t apply for the tax abatement last year because there was no building there. The county did a partial assessment on the property as the foundation was in the ground. 

“So they assessed them for that foundation, and so they would have to pay taxes, so they would like to go back and have you approve this non-compliance and submit the CF-1s so that they get the tax abatement for that partial assessment for pay 2022. They would have filed in 2021 pay 2022. They’re asking that you approve this non-compliance waiver through the public hearing process that would grant them that tax abatement for this year on that partial assessment,” Skinner said, adding he didn’t know how much that partial assessment was. 

Klondaris asked if the lifespan of the tax abatement was 10 years and Skinner said it was. 

No one spoke for or against the resolution and it was approved unanimously. 

Klondaris asked if anyone was living in the senior housing yet and Skinner said yes.

The last item Skinner brought before the Council was a request for the Council to approve a resolution designating The Marketplace of Warsaw as a separate allocation area under the Winona Interurban Redevelopment Area. This will allow the allocation area to reset the assessed valuation prior to redevelopment of the existing shopping center. The Redevelopment Commission is working with the developers, Sullivan Wickley, to redevelop the existing Marketplace shopping center. 

Skinner said, “It started out with the Warsaw Redevelopment Commission, they passed the resolution. It goes on to the Plan Commission, they support the passing of the resolution by the Redevelopment Commission and the Council’s job is to reaffirm or support the passing of the resolution by the Plan Commission.”

After the Council’s approval, it goes back to the Redevelopment Commission for a public hearing on the final approval of adopting the resolution to restart the Marketplace’s allocation area. 

“The allocation area is still part of the Winona Interurban. All you’re really doing is resetting the assessed valuation and then also resetting the time frame. So, right now, that time frame would be 25 years based on … when you would issue a bond,” Skinner said. 

“One of the reasons why we’re doing this prior to the bond issue is we’re still trying to figure out the bond issue and putting that all together. But regardless of whether or not we would do anything, it’s in our best interest to redo this allocation area because, since we brought it in 2019 with the intent of trying to help redevelop this area – we knew that it would open it up for potentially liquor licenses because we made it a riverfront district – so we were attempting to try to put some energy back into this Marketplace. Unfortunately, since the time we brought it in, it’s also lost about $2.5 million in assessed valuation,” Skinner explained. 

That loss has significantly impacted the Winona Interurban TIF district because “any losses take away from any gains,” he said. 

Thallemer said the city has been working with the developer for a while now and they’re anticipating some “pretty robust to retail out in that area” but it’s going to require some work. 

The Council approved the resolution unanimously for the Marketplace, which used to include Carson’s, Dunham’s, Sears and Pier One. 

The Council also was asked to approve two ordinances on first reading to re-establish the Cumulative Capital Development (CCD) fund rate to $0.05 per $100 of the assessed value (AV), with the 2022 rate at $0.0442; and the Fire Territory Equipment Replacement Fund (FTERF) to $0.0333 as the current rate is $0.0309 per $100 of assessed valuation. 

Thallemer said the CCD and FTERF are tax rates established “not by the percentage but by a maximum of one is a nickel and one is a third of a cent. And when the AV changes, it doesn’t automatically change the amount. And we’ve gone through this before. I feel bad we have to continue to do this, but it’s the only way to keep our rate up to what we’re entitled to.”

Clerk-Treasurer Lynne Christiansen said Tuesday night was the first reading of the CCD. There will be an advertisement and then the second reading and a public hearing will be at the Council’s March 7 meeting. It then has to be advertised it was passed, and then is sent to the county auditor’s office for a period of time. If there is no remonstration, it’s sent to the Department of Local Government Finance for approval in May. 

The FTERF will follow the same process, but the Wayne Township Board also has to go through the same process. 

The Council approved both ordinances on first reading 6-0.

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