The Shelby County Council has voted to go in with the city of Shelbyville to buy a large development property on East State Road 44.

Approval followed a detailed discussion about where the county’s share of the $4.1 million purchase price would come from.

On Monday, the Shelbyville Common Council also approved funding for bonds to be issued by the city to pay for the land, commonly called the Presbyterian property.

Bonds are IOUs issued to raise cash quickly for a project. Investors buying the bonds are repaid the purchase price plus interest over time.

Located about one-half mile beyond Interstate 74 on East State Road 44, the site to be purchased totals 172.4 acres. The First Presbyterian Church, 124 W. Broadway St., owns 132.4 acres; Krone NA of Tennessee owns 40 acres.

An interlocal agreement between the city and county spells out how the property is to be paid for, and that was a point of discussion for the County Council during its pre-meeting on Tuesday evening.

Bruce Donaldson, an attorney with Barnes & Thornburg in Indianapolis and the city’s bond counsel, said the agreement includes a clause that allows the county to use EDIT money, which is earmarked for economic development, or money from “any available fund,” to make the bond payments.

“Just to give you the flexibility,” he said.

That clause was a concern for County Councilman Bryan Fischer (R-2nd District) who wanted only Economic Development Income Tax funds used for the deal.

“I will not vote for it if we take money out of the general fund or racino,” he said.

Brian Asher, the executive director of the Shelby County Development Corp. and a member of the City Council, said if land in the site is sold to a developer, the money received could be put back into another fund.

Amy Glackman, deputy auditor for Shelby County, said if EDIT was used for the purchase, money from the sale of land would have to go into the EDIT fund only.

County Councilman Terry Smith (R-3rd District) noted the purchase payments were already in the EDIT budget for next year.

At the County Council’s regular meeting, following right after its pre-meeting, Donaldson, the bond attorney, said the bonds would be repaid over a 10-year period.

“Basically, the economics work out to be a 50-50 sharing of the purchase price,” with the city, he said.

Asher, from the SCDC, noted that utility lines are already at or near the Presbyterian property, and a state-funded “sub-road” going into the site is done.

Tony Titus (R-At Large), president of the County Council, asked Asher why they needed to buy the land.

Site selectors hired by companies to find locations for business expansions have praised the property but would prefer to deal with one owner, Asher replied.

“We need to have control of that land. Worst case scenario, after 10 years, we’ll have a land bank,” he added.

Copyright © 2019 The Shelbyville News