Development funds about to be freed

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Development funds about to be freed

Shelby County has been locking up nearly three-fourths of its economic development funds the last 16 years.

But the end is in sight.

By July 2009, the county will have paid off its mortgage on the Shelby County Jail. Because the county has been paying off that debt with funds raised from an economic development income tax, it will soon have more money at its disposal to prepare the county for business development.

In fact, 70 percent of EDIT tax collected by Shelby County-which totaled $1 million this year-has been going toward the jail. “It’s not funny,” said Dan Theobald, director of the Shelby Coun
ty Development Corp. He opposed the plan when it was first floated in 1991 while he was still mayor of Shelbyville. “I said, ‘EDIT doesn’t stand for jail. It stands for economic development.'”

Theobald said raiding the EDIT funds for the jail has slowed Shelby County’s ability to install infrastructure-sewers, culverts, roads, power lines-needed to attract new business developments.

“The county can’t develop because they don’t have any sewers and other infrastructure,” Theobald said.

Still, he said Shelby County hasn’t been hurt too badly. Municipalities in Shelby County collected nearly $1 million of EDIT money on top of the county’s funds. Instead of using it for jails, they have spent it on infrastructure, giving businesses a place to locate.

It’s not clear what the Shelby County commissioners will do with the EDIT funds freed up by paying off the jail. Calls to Shelby County commissioners Roger Laird and Dave Mohr were not returned.

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