Warsaw to extend sewer to Airport Industrial Park

September 12th, 2018

By Dan Spalding | Times-Union

A request by some property owners a dozen years ago for sewer service near the airport has become one of  nearly a dozen economic development projects on the city’s north side all aimed at fueling more growth.

On Monday, two city boards – the redevelopment commission and the plan commission – signed off on plans to merge two economic development districts that will include the recently annexed airport industrial park, giving the city a large funding mechanism to begin adding sewer and roads in the newly joined area and many other projects.

Requests for sanitary sewer near the airport outside the city limits in 2006 led to a report that determined that expansion of sewer could not build off some of the existing infrastructure.

The city then established the Eastern TIF district, which includes the Meijer store development, to capture tax increment finance district revenues to pay for the sewer lines in the airport industrial park.

In 2016, the city began assembling a plan to finance the improvements as the city laid out steps toward annexing the 400 acres, which includes the old Biomet headquarters along U.S. 30.

“Everything we’ve been planning for in the last six years is starting to culminate at this point,” said City Planner Jeremy Skinner Monday afternoon at the redevelopment commission meeting.

On Monday, the redevelopment commission voted to merge the area  into the Northern TIF district and then combine that district with the city’s Eastern TIF district, a move that will provide the city with more flexibility in using revenues and begin to make improvements to the airport industrial park.

Hours later, the plan commission took similar action.

The action allows the city to draw from a larger, combined revenue stream.

Consolidating the districts makes it easier from an accounting standpoint, Skinner said.

The projects were going to happen regardless, but the annexation of the property between the two districts “just made sense to combine them,” Skinner said.

Coinciding with the annexation and merging of TIF districts is the preparation of a bond issue that will pay for the sewer lines into the airport industrial park.

The bond issue is expected to cost about $6 million or $7 million and will be paid for over 23 years.

Estimates will soon be firmed up and the bond issue will be completed within the next few months.

Sewer construction will start next year.

The bond will be the seventh being paid for within the consolidated district.

“To do this (with) cash would hamper our ability to do some other projects in a timely manner,” Skinner said. “By being able to bond issue for this, with the coverage we have, we can continue to pick off some of those small projects as we go.”

The redevelopment commission heard a presentation Monday from Randy Rompola, a municipal finance attorney with Barnes & Thornburg, on the financing of the bond for the sewer work.

Paperwork reviewed by the commission included a long list of projects the are underway and or planned in the near future.

Rompola and others noted that the amount of money that will be generated in the consolidated district is almost twice as much as current obligations.

The Eastern TIF alone generates roughly about $400,000 per year and is expected to continue on that pace until 2042.

A snapshot of how much the district would generate if no further development occurred in the area shows the new district will generate $45 million over the next two dozen years.

“We intend to continue to develop and grow,” Skinner said. “While this is what’s projected based on what is there, my projections are going to be a lot more because we’re building and adding the phase two of the tech park.”

The city has dedicated about $23 million for current projects.

The city has nearly a dozen projects under way or in the plans to facilitate more growth.

In addition to the sewer work near the airport, other projects include a two-phase improvement along CR 300N, a second phase of expansion at the city’s technology park, extension of Mariner Drive in the future that will include a new bridge over Deeds Creek, and extention of Polk Drive, among others.