Portland Redevelopment Commission met this morning to continue discussing how it will spend its funds through the rest of the TIF district’s lifespan.
It also heard a presentation from Brian Houghton of Jones & Henry Engineers about the city’s water collection system and released to the public an architecture study that looked at three blighted downtown buildings.
A new state law requires the commission to have a plan for how it will spend its dollars, and the plan must be approved by city council. The commission plans to present a preliminary plan for the TIF funds at the May 19 Portland City Council meeting.
The commission’s preliminary plan includes money for education projects, parks and recreation, infrastructure, airport expansion, downtown revitalization, Brownfield cleanup and TIF district expansion.
Member Mark Clemens said he and fellow member Joe Johnston created “buckets” and designated money to each of those.
The education “bucket” designates about $400,000 to vocational training through Jay County High School and the John Jay Center for Learning.
Others include between $150,000 and $200,000 for the pool project and greenway project; $600,000 to unfunded mandates, such as the storm water and sanitary sewer separation and downtown flooding; $150,000 for the airport’s runway extension project; $500,000 for façade funding, building acquisition, building restoration and demolition; and $50,000 for cleaning up the two Brownfield’s within the TIF district.
And $50,000 to $150,000 has been designated to a study that would look at expanding the TIF district.
None of these designations are set in stone, Clemens said. The plan only gives an idea of how the TIF money could be spent.
“They’re just buckets. The new law states, ‘what are you going to do with your money,’” he said. “And there isn’t any specific projects at this current time that’s approved to use any of this money … We want to make sure we’re using our TIF monies to benefit the TIF.”
The commission plans to present its history and the preliminary budget to council early so there’s time to make changes or revisions before it has to be approved July 1.
Commission members also wanted specific information on the sanitary and storm water separation that needs to be done across the city.
Houghton was present to explain what his firm found while mapping the city’s collection system.
He said the old maps of the collection system are outdated, as they were created in 1992.
The firm is currently mapping the south end of the collection system, and once that’s complete will be able to create a hydraulic model that shows the flow through the system.
The city has more than 17 combined sewer overflows, but Indiana Department of Environmental Management has permitted the city to use 12 during specific times.
The firm wants to install river check valves inside 10 of the CSO flap gates to keep water from the Salamonia River from entering the collection system, which is currently happening, Houghton said.
That’s estimated to cost about $120,000, and would help with flooding issues.
Clemens asked how long the solution would last.
“It’s not a cure-all. The city would still need to eliminate most of the CSOs,” Houghton said.
“These are improvements that are needed now,” he added. “You’ve got millions of dollars the city will be needing to spend … this needs to be one of the first steps.”
Other improvements that may happen in the future include upgrading catch basins, upgrading the Gerber Lift Station and possibly adding a 42-inch interceptor to replace an 18-inch interceptor.
The commission also voted to release to the public a report of building studies of the Bailey building, former McClurg building and the former site of Tom and Rod’s.
The report includes a budget for the cost estimates for completely renovating those buildings. The McClurg building has already been purchased.
Anyone interested in viewing the report can see it at Portland City Hall.