TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) The Indiana Senate is considering a bill to restructure how downtown tax funds are used. Here in Terre Haute, the director of Terre Haute Re-Development said that could strangle the growth of the down town.
For almost 30 years, downtown Terre Haute has been on a comeback.
“We had a Terre Haute House that stood vacant and shuttered, vacant except for 2,000 pigeons,” Executive Director of Terre Haute Re-Development Cliff Lambert said. “So we had a lot of benign neglect and we didn’t have a lot of economic development tools.”
If you ask Lambert, the key to downtown’s renaissance is the economic ecosystem formed in 1985 through Tax Increment Financing or TIF district. Meaning taxes gathered within the downtown area from new development are captured and put into a fund.
“(It’s) a pool of money that’s utilized for infrastructure improvements like repair, rehab for city sidewalks, curbs, sewers and the like in that particular area,” Lambert said.
In the last nine years, Lambert says its helped to bring around $220 million in investment downtown.
But just up the road on I-70 in the state house, Lambert said the senate is weighing the idea of phasing out TIF districts with the exception of Indianapolis’ district.
“There are some legislators that don’t believe that the local entities: the redevelopment commissions and the city councils, understand how to utilize these funds wisely,” he explained.
Lambert points to the success of downtown and the Re-Development commissions’ combination of realtors and financial advisors as evidence that Terre Haute is to the contrary.
“I dont wanna give up the momentum that we have and I don’t want the legislature in Indianapolis preventing us from what we need to do,” Lambert said.” If they are going to give Indianapolis an exemption, I want an exemption for Terre Haute as well.”