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Another million for property tax reduction

The Harrison County Council Monday night approved an additional $1 million in riverboat funds to reduce property taxes next year.
The funding will be added to the $3 million school corporations received last year for property tax reduction, but not in time to be reflected on this year’s property tax bills, school officials said.
Councilman Alvin Brown’s motion to approve the extra dollars, seconded by Rhonda Rhoads, passed 5-0. Councilman Carl (Buck) Mathes was absent.
Prior to that action, council chair Gary Davis had said the $1 million appropriation from riverboat dollars had been advertised and thus could be voted on at Monday night’s meeting, but he suggested the council might want to wait and talk to the county commissioners about it first. Generally, the commissioners decide whether a particular expense is worthy and pass that along to the council for a ruling. If the council doesn’t approve the spending, then that’s it until the issue comes up again.
In this instance, the council initiated the action. The commissioners must yet approve or the funding is dead because only they can enter into contracts. And for this, an interlocal agreement will be needed between the schools and the county.
‘We could vote on it tonight, or we could table it until the next meeting,’ Davis said.
‘Sometimes time slips by; it seemed to the last time,’ Rhoads said.
Davis responded: ‘We had plenty of time last time.’
Brown (who pointed out he is not up for reelection this year) said the $1 million extra, if the same is approved along with the usual $3 million for the next two years, would make up for what the taxpayers lost this year. ‘This will give the taxpayers a fair deal. If we do that three years in a row, it will make up for this year,’ Brown explained.
While riverboat funds cannot be allocated strictly for property tax reduction, the money can be used to reduce the payments on debt, which in turn reduces property taxes.
In another matter, the council approved $51,768 from riverboat dollars to use as matching funds if Main Street Corydon is successful in obtaining a ‘Brownfield’ grant to clean up environmental hazards, if any are found at the former Keller Manufacturing Co.’s downtown Corydon site.
The goal is to turn the site into a prime retail development to increase the tax rolls.
‘We’re not sure what direction that could go, but it’s a major goal to turn it into a tax-producing property,’ Sean Hawkins, community development manager for the Harrison County Convention and Visitors Bureau, told the council.
Councilman Kenneth Saulman’s motion to approve the funds, seconded by Brown, passed unanimously.
The council also approved riverboat funds for Harrison County’s 12 townships. The money, $102,500, is the same as in past years but reflects a reduction for the cost of mosquito control in each township.
Rhoads opposed that motion, without comment.
The council’s next meeting is Tuesday, Oct. 12 at 7 p.m., instead of Monday, Oct. 11, when the courthouse will be closed for Columbus Day.