The city moved one step closer to the purchase of the Broad Ripple Park Family Center this week. The measure uses TIF, or tax-increment financing, money to pay for the center, and many in the community are not happy.
A proposal passed by a Metropolitan and Economic Development Committee will allow the use of $22 million from the Midtown TIF district to buy the center, which opened up this year in Broad Ripple. The Midtown TIF was created 10 years ago to benefit five neighborhoods, and Councilor John Barth said that’s what made it unique. TIF districts create funding by setting up a development area that captures future tax dollars.
“In other words neighborhoods aren't fighting each other for resources, but instead they're using the TIF as a vehicle to ensure that a rising tide lifts all boats,” Barth said.
The Midtown Economic Council was set up to advise and manage project ideas and make sure the TIF money was used equitably across the area. At the committee meeting, members of the MEC said they did not get a chance to weigh in.
Midtown Indy Executive Director Michael McKillip said the move is unfair.
“It effectively ends a 25-year strategy. I think you will hear folks say that some revenue will be available. But the last 16 years of this TIF strategy has a lot of work to be done,” McKillip said.
The midtown council had been considering plans including a grocery store and affordable housing project.
The holding company that owns the family center gave the city a year payment abatement, but if it’s not purchased now the price will increase. The agreement created health care inside the family center through a partnership with Community Health.
Numerous councilors expressed frustration about the process. Ultimately the proposal passed with a unanimous vote.
Councilor Michael-Paul Hart said the move may serve as a teaching moment when it comes to the management of TIF districts.
“That learning lesson being when that council was developed there was no guardrails on how the funds were used specifically towards revenue generating investments,” said Hart.
The proposal heads to the full council for a final vote next week.