Center Grove residents turned the Center Grove school administration building into a standing room only discussion of the future of their community. Citizens for Center Grove, a local not for profit organization, presented their plan for turning Indiana’s most populated unincorporated area into Indiana’s newest town. The presentation included the form of the government and presented the estimated property tax rate the town would need to collect.
The town government would consist of an elected five member council, and clerk-treasurer. In addition to the elected officials the town would hire a professional town manager to guide the towns effort. The organization detailed it’s plans to contract out services to keep the overall cost low. More than 50% of the proposed budget would come from taxes residents already pay, gasoline, county highway taxes and others that the area currently doesn’t collect since it is not an incorporated community. The municipal consulting firm Umbaugh and Associates estimated the town would collect more than $2.8 million in non-property tax revenue. The estimated property tax rate of .2028 cents per $100 of net assessed value compares to about 38 cents for Greenwood and 78 cents for Bargersville. Umbaugh provides financial consulting services to many Indiana towns and cities including neighboring Greenwood.
Following the presentation (download a copy here) the floor was opened for questions. The room of more than 250 people came to life asking questions, making statements and jockeying for position when it became apparent that there were more questions than time. The agreement with the school for the use of the building asked that the building be empty and locked by 9pm. As with most meetings those opposed were very vocal. However unlike most meetings proposing tax increases at least half of the crowd indicated by applause and comments, an open mind, if not a favorable opinion of creating the town.
The next step in the incorporation process is for Citizens for Center Grove to present the incorporation petition to the Johnson County Commissioners. The Commissioners will make the final decision on whether Center Grove becomes a town. If Center Grove remains as it is, with no local government, board member Ryan Rhoten says it risks becoming an unincorporated island of homes dealing with declining services and increasing taxes. (learn about unincorporated islands)
Part I – The presentation begins about eight minutes into the video
Part II – Questions from residents continue
Pictures from the meeting