By JOHN KLINE
THE GOSHEN NEWS
GOSHEN — Its been about seven years now, but the South Benton Tax Increment Finance district is finally generating some income for the town of Syracuse.
Such was the news announced during a meeting of the Elkhart County Redevelopment Commission Thursday evening. During the meeting, County Plan Director Chris Godlewski described the origins of the South Benton TIF and why it has taken so long to generate any revenue for the town.
“This was actually created around 2006-2007, and it’s located immediately north of the town of Syracuse but in Elkhart County on Ind. 13 and south of U.S. 6,” Godlewski said of the TIF district. “It was started as part of a plan for an extension of development north of Syracuse, and its just taken that long (to generate any revenue). There has only been one addition to a manufacturing building which has slowly earned TIF revenue, and we’re just now ready to do a payment.”
To date, Godlewski indicated that the South Benton TIF currently contains approximately $66,700. Through an interlocal agreement established between the commission and the town, the commission will receive 15 percent of revenue generated through the TIF, while the town will receive 85 percent.
“We would get $9,859.37, which would all go to pay reimbursement for legal expenses,” Godlewski said. “Then the remainder, which is about $55,000, would go to the town of Syracuse.”
While revenue is finally beginning to trickle in through the long-running TIF, Godlewski noted that it could take some time for that TIF revenue to make any kind of significant dent in the more than $1 million the town has spent to date to extend water and sewer lines to the town’s north side.
“Over the last seven years they’ve spent approximately $1 million to put in water and sewer up to Ind. 13 and up to these existing manufacturing buildings, and the thought is that new buildings will be built to tap into those lines.”
Due to the uncertain nature of the TIF’s revenue-generating ability moving forward, Godlewski recommended that the board look at handling the payment agreement on a yearly basis for the time being.
“Next year, we would come up with either a different amount or try to figure out more of a long-term payment,” Godlewski said. “Coming up with a long-term agreement may be tough, because we don’t know how much revenue we’ll continue to raise. We might just have to continue to do it on a yearly basis and see how it goes.”
With the TIF appropriation approved by the Redevelopment Commission, the appropriation is now set to go before the Elkhart County Council during their upcoming April meeting for final review and possible passage.