By Ann Marie Shambaugh
The Zionsville Town Council effectively – though not officially – ruled out the possibility of renovating its current Town Hall building by passing two ordinances June 1 and funding that lay the groundwork for the construction of a new town hall.
The first ordinance approved by the council outlines the plan to finance the project, which is expected to be funded primarily through tax increment financing, food and beverage taxes and cumulative cap development funds. In order to get a lower interest rate, it also allows the council to levy a special benefits tax as a backup funding method, although that tax is never expected to go into effect.
Bruce Donaldson, the town’s bond counsel, said he sees the backup tax levied “quite frequently” in other communities, but he does not expect Zionsville to go that route.
“The town council has a reasonable expectation to use funds other than the property tax backup to make the debt service payments,” Donaldson said in an email.
The second ordinance allows Zionsville to switch out its current lease bond with a general obligation bond with identical terms once the town has officially moved out of its current building. This will allow the building to be released from its lease so it can be sold and commercially developed.
Councilor Steve Mundy said after the meeting that a key next step in moving the project forward is finding a buyer interested in developing the site of the current Town Hall to create tax revenue that can be used toward the new facility.
“Right now we are marketing the property and making developers aware of it,” he said. “We know there are some who have some interest, but we have no firm offers on anything yet.”
The council also approved $250,000 from the general fund to pay for CSO Architects to continue designing the new town hall. The funding should cover the project through the rest of the design phase and result in a project ready to go out for bid.
“This does certainly take a big step toward saying we are intending to build a new town hall after we sell off part of this property and put it on commercial tax rolls,” Mundy said at the meeting. “It does take out of the question the likely refurbishing of the building we’re sitting in right now.”
Parts of the current Town Hall building are more than 50 years old, and the facility would require major repairs to heating, cooling, plumbing and other systems, Mundy said, all without generating new business and tax revenue. He also said that the new town hall will likely cost between $6 and $6.5 million but that the new bond will likely be closer to $8 million to help pay off debt associated with the current Town Hall building.