3. The city expands
It took three years, but as of January, Kokomo gained another 11,000 residents through the West Side and East Side annexations, making the City of Firsts the 12th largest city in Indiana.
Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight showed he wasn’t stopping there, however, when mid-year he proposed annexing another 6 square miles of territory to the east of the newly expanded city boundaries.
Goodnight said he wants to protect the existing Kokomo business district from uncontrolled development along the new U.S. 31 bypass. Three of the new bypass’ main interchanges would be included in the proposed Southeast Annexation.
While the annexations are expected to keep property taxes stable for city residents, county school districts and Howard County officials worry that tax caps, combined with the addition of city property taxes, will produce a revenue drop they won’t be able to handle.
Kokomo officials counter that a healthy, growing city will be the rising tide which lifts all boats, including in the county. Some of the 1,500 residents of the targeted Southeast annexation have vowed to fight.
4. Big plans for ‘the Y’
There hasn’t been a better downtown neighbor than the Kokomo Family YMCA, and through cooperation between the city and Howard County, the YMCA leadership made the momentous decision to stay downtown.
This year we learned of plans to build not only a new downtown YMCA, but also a downtown parking garage to compliment the project.
Almost in spite of themselves, city and county officials set aside differences to reach a funding accord, with county officials accepting 80 new spots in the city’s planned garage, in return for honoring the Howard County Commissioners’ pledge of $500,000 toward the project.
Until that agreement, it looked as though the county would spend $800,000 to purchase another downtown building and all of its parking spots. Now that the city and county are working together, Y officials are even more enthusiastic they’ll be able to make strong inroads as they begin fundraising for what is expected to be a $15 million investment in downtown Kokomo.