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Delphi:  The Planning of a Stellar Community

The elimination of most semi-truck traffic from downtown Delphi when the Hoosier Heartland Highway was completed presented a window of opportunity for this Carroll County community to realize a long-term vision of creating a walkable, vibrant downtown, including new shops and restaurants, outdoor dining, upper-story residences and a restored 19th-Century opera house. As a result, the City of Delphi was selected as one of Indiana’s Stellar Communities.

Becoming a Stellar Community allows the City to accelerate its plans instead of spreading them out over five or 10 years longer. The Stellar Program matches the City to traditional and special grant programs to fund projects.

Umbaugh is the municipal advisor to the City and was enlisted to help Delphi address the financial accounting and reporting implications of this exciting and challenging opportunity. Umbaugh’s role in the project was to:

· Assist the mayor and clerk-treasurer in properly accounting for all grant dollars and local match requirements;

· develop a financing plan for the City to identify the sources and timing for their local match requirement; and

· work with the City’s engineer and other officials to help ensure transparency of project costs and funding sources throughout the various construction periods.

In total, the City currently has planned nearly $23 million in Stellar Projects with a local requirement of only $2.57 million.

Nonetheless, taxpayers and council members still needed reassurance that this is a wise investment.

“It isn’t typical for a small community such as Delphi to invest $2.5 million in downtown improvements,” said former Mayor Randy Strasser. “That’s a big number. We had to create a comfort level for the public and council members who have never invested at this level. Umbaugh led the council through how our cash balances would be affected. They calculated our future revenue and showed that even if we have no growth, we will have higher cash balances at the end of the Stellar Community projects, even after spending $2.5 million. It showed them we’re not spending our way into the poor house.”

Since the Stellar Program will bring millions of dollars of investment, each dollar having a specific purpose and tied to a specific project, everyone knew it was essential to manage the projects correctly. Umbaugh has been an ongoing resource to help manage the financial communication among engineers, local stakeholders, the common council, the mayor, the clerk-treasurer, the State of Indiana and the federal government.

Local officials know the projects will add value – and assessed value—to the community over time. “The downtown renovations are filling a gap in the area destinations. Tens of thousands of people come into the community for heritage tourism to the nearby 1860-era village and museum to experience what Indiana was like during the Wabash and Erie Canal days. Our downtown project will protect historic downtown buildings and make them suitable for unique shops and other new businesses.”

Umbaugh’s mission is to help clients resolve complicated financial issues they face as they improve the quality of life in their communities. Delphi’s Stellar Project is an excellent example of Umbaugh’s fulfillment of our mission.

We say thank you to the City of Delphi for allowing us to be part of an endeavor so important to your local community.

If you travel near Carroll County, make time to take a slow drive through Delphi and notice all the improvements.