BEDFORD - SEPTEMBER , 5, 2023 - The three Tax Incremental Financing districts have generated a lot of revenue for the City of Bedford. The three special taxing districts will generate over $ 91 million by 2039.
The first TIF district was established in 2006, second one in 2010, and the third in 2013 with each TIF district generating about $4,386,604 in 2023.
The politicians love TIF districts because the allocations of revenues are diverted to projects that a redevelopment commission board will have the decision making capability, verses the city council members.
The Bedford Redevelopment Commission approved several projects such as water/sewer improvements, construction of Becky Skillman Way, Patrick Robbins Way, and recently the construction of a new police station over the years.
In order for the new police station to be built, using TIF revenues a thin line along 16th street was drawn for a boundary for a EDA for the construction of the new building.
Photo: TIF revenues were used to construct a new police station on 16th Street
While many of these projects are worth while and may be needed, the casualty in the special taxing districts is city employees, police and firefighter pay, parks, libraries and local schools.
In addition to TIF revenues the City of Bedford Mayor Girgis, police officers, and firefighters lobbied for a public safety tax.
In 2010, the City of Bedford was concerned that General Motors would close. Former Bedford Mayor Shawna Girgis, lobbied Lawrence County Commissioners, and Lawrence County Council members to pass a local income public safety tax.
At the time it was feared that should GM Powertrain should close the firefighters and police officers would have to be laid off.
This tax now generates $1.2 million in revenue to fund 11 city public safety positions for both the police and fire departments as well as a 911 dispatcher.
This local income tax eased the worries of police officers and firefighters of any layoffs.
Photo: GM Powertrain will generate $57 million in revenues to Bedford RDC, however at the time these funds could be used for police officer or firefighter salaries
In addition, GM Powertrain is still around generating $2.1 million annually in revenue going to the special TIF district and not the city general funds.
The GM TIF area will generate $57.9 million by 2039 for the Bedford RDC to decide which projects they wish to fund.
Former Mayor Girgis was elected in 2008, in her first term as mayor Girgis she had a recession, Bedford's unemployment rate was at 14 percent, Indiana implemented property tax caps, which reduced city revenues.
The city offered early retirement, combined position of street commissioner and planning director which Dan Kirk serving in both roles. Staff wis the largest expense.
At the time the city was having to borrow money to fund the city.
This made the city's financial situation challenging.
However, as Mayor Girgis only gave city employees two raises in her 12 years serving the city.
The Republican led city council under President Bryon Buker with the city council being conservative and funding the Stellar Project; decided they could not give any city employees pay raises at the time.
The questions remain if the city did not have a TIF district would they have the revenue to properly give raises to the city employees and especially the public safety personnel.
The Indiana legislature have given the ability for TIF revenues to be used for salaries of police officers and firefighters.
The city's unwillingness to give pay raises and support their families have caused many to leave and work in the private sector. Approximately 80 employees have left the City of Bedford since January 2017.
The city's policies on overtime pay and comp time does not provide families more money.
Up until 2021, in Mayor Sam Craig's first term the police officers or firefighters did not receive significant pay raises.
However, the damage may already have been done with the city facing high turnover among its employees. During each budget cycle the city employee might or might not get a raise based on tax revenues and the city's expenditures.
The 2024 proposed budget is at $25 million.
Below is list of salaries of public safety personnel:
1st Class firefighter -$51,071
1st Class Police Officer $51,071.28
All police officers and firefighters receive longevity pay based on years of service. After 30 years of service this will be $3,042 yearly.
Located at 1416 James Avenue Bedford, Indiana