Building a Town Hall/Police Station in Walkerton, Indiana Without Raising Taxes or Utility Rates
Located in northern Indiana, Walkerton had operated its Town hall, court and police station out of an old store front on highway 6 (pictured below) for decades. The space was so small the Town’s clerk-treasurer had resorted to using an old jail cell to store Town records! Faced with a lack of space and dozens of needed improvements, the Town had a decision to make; update the old storefront or construct a new building to house the police, court and Town hall?
After careful consideration, it became clear to Town officials the benefit of a new municipal building far outweighed the cost. “We envisioned the new building as the hub of our small town,” said Walkerton Economic Director/Building Commissioner Phil Buckmaster.
Now the question was how to pay for project? “We knew what the best option was for the Town, but with today’s economy we were hesitant to put any additional tax burden on our residents,” said Town Council President Karol Jackson.
Having completed a number of projects with Umbaugh over the years, Town officials enlisted Umbaugh to assist them to resolve the financial issues related to this milestone project. It was clear from the first meeting the Town’s primary objective was to eliminate, or greatly reduce, any tax burden from the project. As Buckmaster put it, “We had the perfect location picked out and a vision for what the building could be. Now we just needed Umbaugh to figure out a way for us to pay for it without raising taxes or utility rates.”
After a comprehensive review of Town’s revenue sources and spending patterns, Umbaugh proposed a plan to the Town Council: utilize already existing county economic development income tax (“CEDIT”) revenue to offset any tax impact the project would have. The plan consisted of the Town issuing property tax backed bonds to pay for the building, but instead of levying a tax rate to pay for the bonds they would use an existing revenue stream, CEDIT, to replace the need for a property tax levy. In the words of Buckmaster, “It was a win/win scenario; no new taxes and low interest rates associated with a tax supported bond issue.”
The result; Walkerton officially opened its new municipal building in the spring of 2014 (pictured below). The $2,000,000 project was a success in many ways; including meeting the Town’s goal of no new taxes or fees. “The Town of Walkerton is extremely appreciative of Umbaugh for their guidance exhibited in financing the Walkerton Municipal Building. Umbaugh’s experience and creativity allowed Walkerton to complete the project without any new taxes or utility rate increases,” Buckmaster added.