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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

In 4-2 Vote Lawrence County Council Votes to Establish ERA in Heltonville

HELTONVILLE - JUNE 23, 2022 - The Lawrence County Council in a 4-2 Vote voted a resolution to establish an Economic Recovery Area in Heltonville during their meeting Thursday night.

The resolution did not establish whether the ERA considered would be the complete parcel or just the building of the former Heltonville School building which is now owned by Transitions.

The motion passed despite two motions by Lawrence County Council member Rick Butterfield to table the resolution. Lawrence County president Scott Smith did not acknowledge Butterfield's two motions to table the request.

Robert's Rules of Order state that once the motion was made to table the request the motion should have went to a vote. At this time it is not known whether this was a legal vote.

The reason council members Rick Butterfield and Jeff Lytton did not want the motion to pass was because there was no resolution in written form for the council members to be able to read or know what was actually being voted on.

" At no time should a council member vote on something he or she has not seen, or heard about. Tonight there was no documents to know what we are voting on," said Butterfield during an almost one hour discussion on the ERA and tax abatement proposed for the facility.

Lawrence County Auditor Jessica Staggs did not have a copy of the resolution for Lawrence County council members to read or present to the Lawrence County Council members.

What is a Economic Recovery Area?

“Economic revitalization area” means an area which is within the corporate limits of a city, town, or county which has become undesirable for, or impossible of, normal development and occupancy because of a lack of development, cessation of growth, deterioration of improvements or character of occupancy, age, obsolescence, substandard buildings, or other factors which have impaired values or prevent a normal development of property or use of property.  The term “economic revitalization area” also includes: (A) any area where a facility or a group of facilities that are technologically, economically, or energy obsolete are located and where the obsolescence may lead to a decline in employment and tax revenues;  and (B) a residentially distressed area, except as otherwise provided in this chapter.

(2) “City” means any city in this state, and “town” means any town incorporated under IC 36-5-1.

(3) “New manufacturing equipment” means tangible personal property that a deduction applicant: (A) installs on or before the approval deadline determined under section 9 of this chapter, in an area that is declared an economic revitalization area in which a deduction for tangible personal property is allowed; (B) uses in the direct production, manufacture, fabrication, assembly, extraction, mining, processing, refining, or finishing of other tangible personal property, including but not limited to use to dispose of solid waste or hazardous waste by converting the solid waste or hazardous waste into energy or other useful products;

The former Heltonville School was purchased by Jerry Ford,, who owns Transitions, to establish a drug rehabilitation facility. Since the facility is new and renovation is being done to the building, which will include 24/7 in-patient care, the property may be approved for future real estate tax abatement.

The former Heltonville School was purchased for the amount of $735,000 even though a recent appraisal of the facility places the assessed value at $2.9 Million.

Prior to this evening's vote April Stapp Collins, the Lawrence County Assessor told Lawrence County Council members she was not allowed on the property to properly assess the facility. In order to complete a proper appraisal the assessors must have full access to the facility.

" Our assessors were asked to leave the property after notifying Ford of our visit," Collins told Lawrence County Council members.

Jamie Harris, who presented the information to the Lawrence County Council, told Collins the reason they were not granted access is that there were patients at the facility. To which Collins replied " In situations like this in other places across the State of Indiana, they sign confidentiality statements," replied Collins.

Lawrence County Assessor April Stapp Collins told Lawrence County Council members that the assessors were ordered off the Transitions property by Transitions

Collins asked Harris again when she could have access to the facility.

Because the facility is new, a six-year abatement may be granted verses a ten-year tax abatement.

Transitions will return at a later time to look at getting a tax abatement from the Lawrence County Council. Scott Smith also serves on the tax abatement committee and had been reviewing Jerry Ford's request prior to Thursday night's Lawrence County Council meeting.

Lawrence County Zephyr will continue to monitor developments on this matter. A complete video of this meeting is being downloaded for viewers to be able to see the request of the resolution to be tabled and April Stapp Collins' exchange with Jamie Harris concerning access to the Transitions facility in Heltonville.

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