County reinstates city economic development funds

Logansport will have more flexibility in creating jobs, promoting business attraction and retaining industries in 2020 thanks to a decision by the Cass County Council Friday, Oct. 18.

The council voted 5-2 in favor of an ordinance that rescinds a vote last year to reduce the Local Option Income Tax (LOIT) by .1 percent. That vote was made to offset a .1 percent income tax for a new jail, but it cost the city $315,000 this year and would have cost the city $7 million over an estimated 22-year bond issue for a new jail.

Mayor Dave Kitchell applauded council members for working with the city, as the city worked to approve $500,000 for the Logansport Memorial Hospital Cancer Unit.

“Together, we have collaborated on many great projects, and that one in particular succeeded in creating more high-wage jobs in the city, more profit for the hospital and much more convenience for cancer patients and their families,” he said. “Restoring our economic development funding will help us redevelop the mall property and secure other projects.”

Prior to the vote, the mayor said if the tax dollars are restored, the city could take ownership of the Logansport/Cass County Memorial Center — a war memorial — and use a portion of its annual allocation to pay for improvements at the center. The move would add a new event venue to accommodate a Noblesville entrepreneur and provide additional opportunities for local caterers, in addition to creating 15 full-time jobs.

A project prepared by the financial analyst retained by the city and county estimates a $2 million lease option to bring necessary upgrades to the Memorial Center would cost the city approximately $200,000 a year from its LOIT revenues projected to generate nearly $12 million over 20 years. That figure does not include any lease income or payment in lieu of property taxes the city would receive. Since the Memorial Center is government-owned, it does not currently generate property taxes. Kitchell said the funding options consultants have recommended for the project would not increase the property tax rate and could involve a local bank purchasing a bond.

“This was a choice between jails and jobs, and our community chose jobs that will add value to other businesses in our community for many years to come,” the mayor said.

Councilmen Grover Bishop, Bruce Ide, Dave Redweik and Tracy Williamson voted in favor along with Council President Mike Stajduhar. Councilmen Brian Reed and George Stebbins opposed it. The measure had the support of County Commissioners President Jim Sailors and Commissioner Dr. Ralph Anderson.

SOURCE: News release from Logansport Mayor Dave Kitchell

NOTE: According to the ordinance (Ord. 19-10 Modifying Local Income Tax Rates) the local income tax rates proposed will become effective on January 1, 2020 and will increase the total local income tax rate for Cass County from 2.6% to 2.7%.