County Council moving forward with plan for revitalization area

Bartholomew County Council is moving ahead with a change that could eventually allow a tax break to bring high-speed internet to rural parts of the county, but would also make it easier for other businesses to seek tax abatements.

Last night the council agreed to begin the process of turning unincorporated areas of the entire county into a Economic Revitalization Area. While that would remove a step required for any companies seeking tax abatements going forward, it would also allow Hoosier Networks to seek a tax break for a project to bring high speed internet to almost 12,000 rural homes throughout the county.

Currently each individual property owner has to ask the County Council to approve an Economic Revitalization Area designation for a property before returning to seek a tax abatement.

The council’s decision starts a process that will include a public hearing on the Economic Revitalization Area proposal next month.

Commissioner Tony London said that if the designation is approved, eventually Hoosier Networks would like to request a tax abatement for the project. The city of Columbus adopted a similar tax break for the company earlier this summer, suspending 95 percent of its property taxes for 20 years.

Scott Rudd, a Brown County councilman and Bartholomew County consultant, mentioned that other counties have completely eliminated property taxes for similar projects, with no limit on the duration of the tax break.