CROTHERSVILLE — The Crothersville Town Council had a tough task.

To re-establish the cumulative capital development fund and raise the property tax rate for residents or not, that was the question.

During a public hearing Thursday night at the town hall, the council spent about 50 minutes discussing the topic and ultimately voted 4-0 to re-establish the property tax rate at the maximum, 0.05, up from the current rate of 0.0132. Council President Jason Hillenburg attended the meeting via phone, so he couldn’t cast a vote.

Only one resident attended the meeting, but they did not speak in favor of or against the matter.

Reuben Cummings with GFC LLC of Seymour said a $100,000 homestead property will see an increase of roughly $8.67 a year. That will start with the 2023 tax bills.

The increase in the property tax rate will bump up the town’s annual revenue by more than $25,000 to help with purchases related to infrastructure, vehicles and equipment.

Council Vice President Jamy Greathouse said the town hadn’t raised the rate since 2006. At that time, it was 0.026, and since then, it was slowly declined.

Even though some people would consider the annual increase small, Councilman Aaron Mays said residents he has talked to don’t want to pay more in taxes.

“I know that it’s money to help the community, but people who are paying that, when they hear a raise in taxes, that’s all they hear,” he said.

During the regular council meeting earlier this month, Councilwoman Terry Richey said she was waiting to receive some financial information to decide if the time is right to re-establish the cumulative capital development fund. She still had some concerns during Thursday’s meeting.

“There’s a lot of stuff happening in the world right now with costs and inflation and different things. I’m just worried that it’s a bad time to hit people right now,” she said. “They see increase at the gas pump, and they see increase at the grocery store, and they see increase everywhere they go. We just hit them with an increase of the sewer (rate), which that has been a year since we did that. I just have my concerns. I’m having a really hard time with it.”

Things are costing the town more, too, Greathouse said.

“I don’t think it’s ever a good time to raise taxes,” he said. “But the fact of the matter is we were put in these positions, we see behind the scenes things, we understand, we have those conversations and we have to be the ones that do what’s best for the community. … Since 2006, we’ve left a lot on the table that has not been going into that fund. I believe there is a lot of need, and I believe it has gone undone for a long time.”

The council chose not to re-establish the fund in 2021, and Greathouse said pushing it off again this year would do the town an injustice.

“In the long term, that $25,000 can turn into so much more,” he said. “I think it’s on us to be responsible with how we spend it … but not to vote it through to where it’s not even available for us to have that opportunity I think would be a letdown on us.”

Hillenburg said while he doesn’t want to see his taxes go up, either, residents are putting their trust in the council to put the money to the proper use now to benefit the town in the future.

“We’ve got to do what’s best for not just today, for 2021, 2022 in Crothersville, we’ve got to do what’s best for Crothersville in 10 years, 15 years,” he said. “We’ve got to get the ball rolling in motion for those (council members) to come, not just for us now.”

By the end of Thursday’s discussion, after hearing both sides of the issue, Richey made a motion to increase the property tax rate to the max, and that passed. She said the fact that the money will help the community resulted in her voting in favor of the increase.

She then said it’s important for the council to come up with a plan to show how it will be using the revenue that will begin coming back to the town in 2023.

Mays said it’s key to spend that money on things citizens can see, touch and use and that make the community better.

“It’s their money,” Mays said.

Greathouse agreed with Richey and Mays.

“Spend where it’s visible, spend the way that shows this community that we’re working for them,” Greathouse said. “This little bit will help us be able to continue to grow and develop in those ways and maybe attract another company, maybe attract somebody to build some more houses. We have to have money to invest back into the community, need money to put into the community. I believe this is the first steppingstone to do it.”

Crothersville just received a matching grant for the fifth time to pave town streets, streetlights will be converted to LED to reduce energy bills, a sewer compliance project is underway, a drinking water project is in the works, a fifth police officer was added, improvements have been made at the parks and annexation will generate more funds for the town.

Now with the reestablishment of the cumulative capital development fund, Councilman Chad Wilson said the town’s priority will be infrastructure, including sidewalks.
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