City Council OKs financing of new police HQ | Local News

Terre Haute City Council on Thursday approved the framework for financing a new $18 million police headquarters downtown in the former Tribune-Star building.

In an 8-to-1 vote, City Council approved a resolution that would allow the Terre Haute Department of Redevelopment to combine three of the city’s tax increment finance districts.

By combining the Downtown, State Road 46 and Jadcore allocation areas, the city would likely be able to secure a favorable, insured bond issue for the project, said Jason Semler of Baker Tilly Municipal Advisors LLC, the city’s Indianapolis-based financial planning firm.

Council member Martha Crossen, D-District 6, cast the lone no vote against the resolution.

She said she recognizes the need for a new headquarters for Terre Haute Police Department, but questioned the combining of TIF districts.

Crossen said state law already allows for cities to use TIF monies from across allocation areas to fund public safety projects, such as a downtown headquarters.

So why not then, she asked Semler, do that and leave the TIF districts as they are?

Semler said doing so would be less efficient.

“It can be done, but it would less efficient and more expensive,” Semler said. “So if you are going to consolidate and pledge the TIF from all three areas, which is now one, you won’t have to go through any extra steps.”

The council Thursday didn’t talk specifically about the cost of the project, but in a July presentation to the Terre Haute Redevelopment Commission, Semler said a bond issue of about $11.9 million is needed to cover property acquisition and project costs, while another $1.5 million will be needed for premiums and contingencies.

Debt service on $13.4 million over 20 years at a 3 percent annual interest rate, the city’s financial planning firm projects, will ultimately cost taxpayers $17.9 million.

Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett said the project is a long time coming and one he is excited to get underway.

“For the last 10 years we’ve looked at empty properties, empty buildings and nothing really met our needs,” Bennett said.

“Now this [222 S. Seventh St.] is perfect, almost too perfect. … This would be a bad decision not to pursue that building.”

The resolution next heads back to the Redevelopment Commission for a confirmation vote.

The city council also on Thursday approved unanimously a special ordinance rezoning property on N. 25th Street.

The rezoning paves the way for Mental Health America of West Central Indiana to build a three story, 50,000 square-foot facility comprised of 50 one-bedroom units and an engagement center for the homeless.

The engagement center will offer support to members of the community who may be homeless or otherwise lacking essential care and living facilities.

Mental Health America already operates in Terre Haute 70 housing units and eight rental assisted units targeting different demographics in the community, including Younity House, Younity Village and Liberty Village.

Reporter Alex Modesitt can be reached at 812-231-4232 or at Follow him on Twitter @TribStarAlex. 

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