As you know, many property owners are pursuing an Economic Improvement District for the Mile Square in collaboration with Downtown Indy, Inc. (DII). Downtown Indianapolis is the fastest growing neighborhood in Marion County and as our neighborhood grows in density, the impact on cleanliness, safety and beautification is being noticed, which has a more-lasting impact on property values. The proposed Economic Improvement District (EID) seeks to protect your investment by directing appropriate attention and funding towards the long-term sustainability and viability of our urban core. Yet, the Indiana Apartment Association (IAA) is actively trying to dissuade homeowners from investing in their own neighborhood.
The IAA has sent erroneous and misleading information to you. I am a partner in a development company that is a member of the IAA and their position is very disappointing in addition to short sighted. The IAA’s position is to constantly beat the drum for low taxation. While I’m all for low taxes, we are past the point where we need to invest in our downtown. The EID puts all of us with a direct stake in downtown in a position to pay for important improvements and control how this money is spent. It’s nothing more than that but unfortunately the IAA would have you believe we will be adding an exorbitant tax to your property that will benefit very few. This is the furthest thing from the truth. So perhaps the following information can help add clarity.
First and foremost, the IAA is attempting to link concerns about possible referenda by the Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) to the proposed costs of an EID. The proposed IPS referenda are in NO way connected to what is proposed by the EID. They are separate. As stated last fall, the EID would be $100 each year added to your property tax bill. What IPS proposes has not been communicated and discussed publicly with us, with the IAA or with you. Support for the EID does NOT indicate your support for what IPS might propose. Focusing purely on the EID, allow me to correctly update you on the EID process:
1. The services proposed in the EID budget are absolutely necessary.
The EID ensures that your neighborhood gets the attention it deserves as residential, visitor and employee density increases at record levels. Clearly, enhanced services such as an expanded public safety street presence, homeless outreach and increased maintenance and beautification should be provided at appropriate levels in tandem with increased growth. The EID proposes to equitably distribute the costs associated with service delivery with the owners who stand to benefit the most.
2. An EID Budget will be drafted by your property-owner neighbors and approved by the Indianapolis City-County Council every year.
The EID governing board, composed of property owners, oversees the district to maintain accountability and to establish direction for its activities. The board will shape the budget with the same level of measurable outcomes as the other 1,100 EIDs across the country – offering complete transparency with tangible impacts and responsiveness to the needs of property owners. Annual reports will be provided to all property owners highlighting the results of the EID activities. DII is pleased to connect you to multiple communities to see how others report their outcomes.
3. The City of Indianapolis does NOT contract with DII to provide ANY of the services outlined in the proposal.
For several years now, the City of Indianapolis has had budget challenges. It simply hasn’t been able to fund services that DII has provided at a base-level, including basic beautification, safety and pest bird mitigation services, which are currently happening in the Mile Square. DII’s efforts are only base-line and are voluntarily funded by only those that are willing to pay; the rest are getting a free ride on the contribution of others. New and appropriately funded, enhanced services will be dramatically expanded and woven into the EID where all who benefit will pay equitably.
4. The EID will equitably distribute costs across all properties where enhanced services will be delivered.
Property values within the Mile Square continue to rise and will likely continue at an advanced pace in tandem with the vitality and enhancements of the district.
5. An expansion of EID boundaries isn’t likely once it is in place.
The pure, non-gerrymandered Mile Square boundaries exist so the delivery of services is reasonable and impactful for the district. Of the 1,100 other EIDs across the country, the success of the services and the return on the investment has been significant enough that 97 percent renew after 10 years; and in many cases, adjacent neighborhoods request that the district expands so they are able to benefit from the services that are delivered.
6. The illustrative budget that was included in your original petition packet is how the money will be spent.
This is an extremely transparent process and the dollars collected will be spent in a manner that is consistent with the intent of the budget outlined here. There is concern that the City-County Council has legal authority to modify the budget, which would be unprecedented by any of the 1,100 EIDs currently operating in the U.S.
7. Best practices from EIDs from across the country helped to determine the fee split.
State statute doesn’t specify how fees should be distributed, so in the months of research that was conducted prior to the launch of the petitions, it was determined this fee distribution was the most effective way of implementing the EID.
8. Other areas of Marion County and the State are able and welcome to implement their own EID.
Currently, four other neighborhoods/districts are pursuing their own EID adding to the six existing EIDs across the state. State statute allows any group to pursue this mechanism to form a district. The champions of the Mile Square EID, both residential and commercial owners, asked for this. They recognize that this EID is an ideal tool that that gives property owners direct control on how and where to invest in their specific geographic area.
9. Yes. The EID will really increase economic development in the Mile Square.
We cannot continue to kick the can down the road on unaddressed challenges. Residents, workers and visitors to our downtown pay a premium to enjoy what our city has to offer. They expect and deserve a higher level of service that can only be provided through an EID.
10. It is not the intent of the inaugural board of directors to issue bonds and there are no secret projects.
As stated earlier, the board will spend the collected revenue on these services. The reality, however, is that no entity is funding future planning – public or private. This EID puts property owners in the driver’s seat in determining future developments for their district.
For those who have signed and returned your EID petition to Downtown Indy, Inc., thank you. For those who have not, I encourage you to consider doing so – so that we can advance this initiative, direct the funding, give greater voice to residential OWNERS and benefit from much needed services.
Principal, TWG Development, LLC | Member, Proposed Downtown Indianapolis Mile Square EID Board of Directors