Hamilton County tackling $47M wish list, more to come

September 12, 2013
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Hamilton County is poised to pay off decades-old debt tied to a jail expansion and judicial center construction, but it has more than $50 million in projects waiting in the wings.

Officials have been working for months to prioritize an ever-growing wish list that includes everything from a $21,000 utility cart to a county office expansion expected to cost at least $11.5 million.

This week, the seven-member County Council signed off on a measure appropriating the proceeds of four general-obligation bonds being sold to finance most of the work.

The total value of the bonds will be about $47 million. But each bond issue will total less than $12 million—keeping the county from potentially running afoul of a state law that requires municipal projects exceeding that amount to be authorized through a referendum.

Attorney Mike Howard, who represents the three county commissioners who oversee day-to-day operations, said the referendum rule applies only to single projects financed through a bond issue.

Just one of the items on the county’s list even came close: a $11.5 million contribution to the cost of acquiring a former Noblesville middle school for use as an Ivy Tech Community College campus. The city of Noblesville and the state of Indiana also are chipping in.

Payments on the four new bonds will total $4.5 million next year, he said, keeping the county’s tax rate stable. They’ll be reduced the following year to accommodate a fifth issue expected in 2014 to fund the county office expansion.

Commissioners are still working to determine the best way to resolve a space crunch at the Hamilton County Judicial and Government Center in downtown Noblesville, and asked the council to hold off on replacing all the debt until they can come up with a proposal.

Howard acknowledges that project has the potential to creep into referendum territory, depending on the solution officials choose to pursue.

In the meantime, expect to see a flurry of activity as the county repairs facilities, replaces equipment and upgrades technology.

“During the recession, a lot of things were put on the back burner,” Howard said. “This should get things going again.”

The bond transactions are expected to close this year.


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  1. Cramer agrees...says don't buy it and sell it if you own it! Their "pay to play" cost is this issue. As long as they charge customers, they never will attain the critical mass needed to be a successful on company...Jim Cramer quote.

  2. My responses to some of the comments would include the following: 1. Our offer which included the forgiveness of debt (this is an immediate forgiveness and is not "spread over many years")represents debt that due to a reduction of interest rates in the economy arguably represents consideration together with the cash component of our offer that exceeds the $2.1 million apparently offered by another party. 2. The previous $2.1 million cash offer that was turned down by the CRC would have netted the CRC substantially less than $2.1 million. As a result even in hindsight the CRC was wise in turning down that offer. 3. With regard to "concerned Carmelite's" discussion of the previous financing Pedcor gave up $16.5 million in City debt in addition to the conveyance of the garage (appraised at $13 million)in exchange for the $22.5 million cash and debt obligations. The local media never discussed the $16.5 million in debt that we gave up which would show that we gave $29.5 million in value for the $23.5 million. 4.Pedcor would have been much happier if Brian was still operating his Deli and only made this offer as we believe that we can redevelop the building into something that will be better for the City and City Center where both Pedcor the citizens of Carmel have a large investment. Bruce Cordingley, President, Pedcor

  3. I've been looking for news on Corner Bakery, too, but there doesn't seem to be any info out there. I prefer them over Panera and Paradise so can't wait to see where they'll be!

  4. WGN actually is two channels: 1. WGN Chicago, seen only in Chicago (and parts of Canada) - this station is one of the flagship CW affiliates. 2. WGN America - a nationwide cable channel that doesn't carry any CW programming, and doesn't have local affiliates. (In addition, as WGN is owned by Tribune, just like WTTV, WTTK, and WXIN, I can't imagine they would do anything to help WISH.) In Indianapolis, CW programming is already seen on WTTV 4 and WTTK 29, and when CBS takes over those stations' main channels, the CW will move to a sub channel, such as 4.2 or 4.3 and 29.2 or 29.3. TBS is only a cable channel these days and does not affiliate with local stations. WISH could move the MyNetwork affiliation from WNDY 23 to WISH 8, but I am beginning to think they may prefer to put together their own lineup of syndicated programming instead. While much of it would be "reruns" from broadcast or cable, that's pretty much what the MyNetwork does these days anyway. So since WISH has the choice, they may want to customize their lineup by choosing programs that they feel will garner better ratings in this market.

  5. The Pedcor debt is from the CRC paying ~$23M for the Pedcor's parking garage at City Center that is apprased at $13M. Why did we pay over the top money for a private businesses parking? What did we get out of it? Pedcor got free parking for their apartment and business tenants. Pedcor now gets another building for free that taxpayers have ~$3M tied up in. This is NOT a win win for taxpayers. It is just a win for Pedcor who contributes heavily to the Friends of Jim Brainard. The campaign reports are on the Hamilton County website. http://www2.hamiltoncounty.in.gov/publicdocs/Campaign%20Finance%20Images/defaultfiles.asp?ARG1=Campaign Finance Images&ARG2=/Brainard, Jim