ETNA GREEN – Etna Town Council showed interest in Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation’s (KEDCO) housing initiatives, but tabled any decision Tuesday for further discussion during its November meeting.

Greg Fitzloff, business development partner at KEDCO, said a market study was done which identified a need for a little less 2,000 housing units in the county by 2025. Every town has a need for additional housing.

One of the things specifically ahead with housing is the creation of the ability to finance the infrastructure of that housing, Fitzloff said.

During the process, a residential tax increment finance district is an important part of it. Fitlzoff said KEDCO is looking to build primarly single-family housing and not modular homes, public or low-income housing. The houses would not be in a tax abatement program. The houses planned to be built will, in all likelihood, increase the property values of the houses in the surrounding area.

Fitzloff said the first step in the process is to see if there’s an interest. From talking with local business owners and Councilman Jason Hanes, Fitzloff said he believes there is an interest in town for more housing.

KEDCO also has to identify whether there’s an availability of land to build those homes. Fitzloff said that’s going to continue to be an issue. One of the things?Fitzloff said he hears from towns is they’re landlocked, and, to an extent, they are.

He tells people there’s land where the landowners didn’t want to sell at one point, but things do change. And that’s why KEDCO keeps talking to landowners to see if there’s a time when they would be willing to sell the land.

Before KEDCO can find a developer to be brought to Etna Green, KEDCO has see if the town is willing to be part of the process. During the process, “everyone is going to have skin in the game,” Fitzloff said.

Through KEDCO’s land trust, KEDCO will purchase the property, Fitzloff said. KEDCO will then have a land contract with the developer to purchase the land back from KEDCO over a period of three to five years.

“We’re not interested in becoming a permanent landowner,” Fitzloff said. “What we’re doing is facilitating that process and it reduces the upfront cost for the developer.”

The second part of the process is for KEDCO to come back to the Council and say the next biggest cost is infrastructure, which is sidewalks, lights, utility hookups, etc. The town’s role would be to create an instrument to pay for the infrastructure, which would be the residential TIF.

On 18 acres of land, by the time KEDCO is done with the engineering, hooking up water and sewer, a cost of about $800,000 to $900,000 is reasonable. Fitzloff said KEDCO is not looking for the town to write a check of $1 million for the infrastructure.

As part of KEDCO purchasing the land, KEDCO has an engineer that will an initially review the infrastructure cost, as well as a design of how many houses can be put on the land. Fitzloff gave a rough estimate of having 30 to 40 houses on an 18-acre piece of land.

The key to a residential TIF is a tax increment put on the property. As the houses are built, they create an additional property tax revenue. The additional tax revenue is what is captured into the TIF fund, which is used to pay the infrastructure.

Fitzloff talked about how to fund the project, which included having the developer make a bond payment. The developer would give the town a letter of credit, where if the TIF payments don’t create the required revenue, the town can draw on the line of credit to make the payment for the bond.

The creation of the residential TIF requires a public hearing. The property will have to be rezoned, which would have to be approved by the county planning commission if the town doesn’t have a planning commission of its own, and the local school board has to approve the district, Fitzloff said.

Hanes said Fitzloff knows where he stands on getting more housing in Etna Green. Council President Keith Claassen wasn’t at Tuesday’s meeting. Hanes said the Council members will get together at the next meeting and discuss the issue further.

In other business, the Council had their second reading of its 2022 budget and voted to adopt it. The total budget is $236,121.

In other business, the Council recognized Wastewater/Street Superintendent Andy Cook for 15 years of employment and Electric/Water Superintendent Barry Baker for 30 years of employment for the town of Etna Green.