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April 7, 2020

3/25/2020 1:49:00 PM
North Vernon's TIF explores ways to help businesses impacted by the pandemic
The expressions on the faces of Greg Hicks, left, and Chuck Waggoner pretty much tell the story on whether or not the North Vernon Redevelopment Commission (or TIF Board) has the ability to assist local business impacted by the pandemic. Hicks is president of the Commission and Waggoner is its attorney.—Staff Photo
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The expressions on the faces of Greg Hicks, left, and Chuck Waggoner pretty much tell the story on whether or not the North Vernon Redevelopment Commission (or TIF Board) has the ability to assist local business impacted by the pandemic. Hicks is president of the Commission and Waggoner is its attorney.—Staff Photo
The coronavirus has taken its toll not only on local small businesses but on some of the county's premier industries as well.

According to Economic Development Commission Director Kathy Ertel, several local industries are "idle" at this point in time, such as Martinrea, GT, and American Axle, with hourly people laid off and some salary people still manning the fort.

Other businesses have been deemed "critical" and are at full employment, such as Webster West, which makes packaging for the medical and food industry, and the Lowe's Distribution Center, which ships product to its stores.

Other industries still working include Decatur Plastics, NVIC and Decatur Mold, to name a few.

"This (list) can change from day to day, depending on materials and shipping availability," said Ertel. "I stress that the situation is very fluid. The companies' main priority right now is that people stay healthy."

Some industries and small businesses have apparently asked the North Vernon Redevelopment Commis-sion (NVRC) or TIF Board if there is any help available to alleviate economic issues in these times of crisis.

Meeting last week, NVRC President Greg Hicks answered those requests as the commission's attorney, Chuck Waggoner, looked on.

Hicks had asked the attorney to research this issue and Waggoner complied, looking through 73 pages of legal documents.

The conclusion? "There is nothing TIF can do" said Hicks.

State law is very specific about how funds accumulated in TIF districts can be utilized. About the only area where the commission's monies could be used for a virus impacted business or industry is for training, which, in this case, is not what businesses and industries are looking for at this time.

TIF districts collect property tax increases from development in their specific areas. For example, the North Vernon TIF district was formed when the Lowe's Distribution Center located here. Before the Lowe's center was constructed, the county received property taxes for farmland. The county still collects property taxes on that parcel at the farmland rate; the NVRC receives the property tax increases generated by the multi-million dollar industry over and far above what the county collects for farmland.
"From this entity, our hands are tied," said Hicks. "The whale has landed. It's on the beach."

EDC Director Ertel, who was at the TIF meeting, praised both the Commission and Hicks for looking into helping local businesses at this time.

"At least they looked," said Ertel.

"We have to think outside the box. Albert (Jackson, president of the EDC Commission) always told me 'I'd rather you do something than nothing.'"

"They tried. I'm proud of the TIF and Greg Hicks, whose idea it was."





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