TIPTON – The Tipton County Commissioners are considering contributing $300,000 to aid in the city of Tipton purchasing land to expand the city’s business park.
The city is looking to expand its Northgate Business Park to the west and has reached an agreement with Edgar Schulenburg to buy 60 acres of land for $12,000 an acre for a total of $720,000.
Tipton Mayor Tom Dolezal came to the commissioners at the end of July requesting the county to help with the purchase of the land. Since then, the county council has approved the appropriation, but the commissioners have yet to formally approve the disbursement of money, which would come out of the county’s economic development income tax (EDIT) fund.
“I think it’s a good price, and I think it’s an opportunity to get our foot in where we need to be,” Dolezal told the commissioners.
The city doesn’t currently have a business or businesses lined up to fill the 60 acres, Dolezal told the commissioners on Aug. 31, but that at least one company already in the business park was interested in expanding by 5 acres. Currently, the business park has about 18 unused acres.
“I’m optimistic we can get something going with it,” Dolezal said.
Additionally, the mayor said he plans on making the business park area a tax increment financing district (TIF) and using the TIF revenue and city money to pay for any additional infrastructure needed.
Mayor Dolezal pitched the expansion of the business park as a way for the city and county to begin working more closely together on economic development matters.
The candidates – Tracey Powell and Nancy Cline – for commissioners in the upcoming General Election, though, have some concerns over whether it’s smart for the county to spend EDIT money on expanding the business park right now. Powell and Cline won their primary races against Jim Mullins and Mark Manier earlier this year and will be the Republican candidates for District 2 and District 3, respectively, in the upcoming General Election.
They both agree the city and county should continue to work together on economic issues, but also said they believe it may be smarter to spend the money elsewhere, including to help build an interchange at U.S. 31 and Division Road if the state changes its mind.
Earlier this year, the state pulled funding to build a full interchange at the intersection, potentially leaving the county only one access point to its largest highway. Since then, both elected and business officials have formed a coalition to convince the state to change its mind.
“We may be asked, ‘Hey, if you guys want part of that, you may have to help us out,’” Powell said about the interchange at U.S. 31 and Division. “That I think is a very important project to Tipton County, and I want to make sure we have funds for it in the near future.”
Commissioner Mullins said the board would take the concerns under advisement, but that ultimately it’s up to the current board to decide how EDIT money is spent.