City-County Council committee to consider economic improvement districts

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – A City-County Council committee will consider a pair of proposals to permit local property owners to tax themselves to fix up and maintain parts of downtown and the Fountain Square area.

Monday afternoon, the Metropolitan and Economic Development Committee will hear proposals 198 and 199, two economic improvement districts for the mile square and the greater Virginia Avenue corridor.

The GVAC EID restricts itself to properties that line Virginia Avenue from College Avenue through to Fountain Square and then east on to Prospect Street.

The EID would raise $83,000 annually, with a potential $40,000 city match, from commercial property owners.

The mile square EID would raise an estimated $3 million a year from residents and commercial property owners downtown and is more controversial, barely garnering the support of 50% of the property owners + 1 to win council and mayoral consideration.

Both EIDs are intended to pay for maintenance, marketing and improvements that current city budgets don’t fund.

The Indiana Apartment Association, representing downtown multi-unit housing sites, opposes the miles square EID, claiming its approval is less than 51%, and even that margin is too high as downtown Indy Inc. allegedly miscounted actual property owners.

IAA claims a sweetheart deal to confirm the backing of major downtown hotels would further reduce the final total of the EID.

DII disagrees.

The downtown proponent organization argues that IAA’s clients received nearly $200 million in tax breaks and financial incentives to build in the city’s core and, “don’t want to do their fair share in addressing the byproduct of density,” brought on by apartment housing.

DII denies there were any sweetheart deals with hotel owners, and, in fact, more money will be raised by its formula in taxing room stays.

The committee will hear the proposal at 5:30 p.m. in room 260 of the city-county building.

While the verified referendum signatures, if above half of the property owners, would be enough to trigger council consideration, council members have indicated they would expect to see stronger support for the self-taxing program.

Also on committee agendas this week are support for the Marion County Health Department’s proposal for a safe syringe exchange program and a call for the general assembly to ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines.