Attorneys for the city and retired police officers are still working on language to safeguard retirees’ pensions, they told the City Council on Thursday night during its sunshine meeting.
A proposed amendment to city code drafted by City Attorney Eddie Felling would make it clear oversight of the city’s police pension fund is governed by state law.
Attorney Noah Gambill, representing retirees, submitted a set of additional proposed amendments Thursday concerning the 1925 police pension fund, which covers retirees who started working for the city prior to May 1977 when a state fund went in effect.
They call for the city’s pension fund to be in an interest-bearing account separate from all other city funds, that one-half of the city’s previous year pension liability be deposited upon each bi-annual property tax disbursement and that any deficits be made up by a transfer of city money or state reimbursement.
Asked by Councilman Neil Garrison, D-5th, about repayment of money previously diverted from the fund, Gambill said, “Right now, Mr. Felling and I have been talking about going forward. We’re still working on the numbers with regard to what moneys may need to be paid back, if any, but for right now I think the more pressing matter … is the best way to protect that fund.”
Felling said he and Gambill are “fairly close. I promise the council that if we don’t get it done next week, we’ll get it done next month or the next month or the next month. I’m confident we can reach a point where we all agree.”
Council members appeared receptive to property tax breaks for a proposed $11.7 million housing development for low to moderate income seniors in the former Lighthouse Mission building at 1450 Wabash Ave., previously the home of Miller Parrott Baking Co.
The project is proposed by the Sisters of Providence and Flaherty and Collins Properties of Indianapolis, which also plan to apply for rental housing income tax credits and historic preservation credits.
The building is not currently subject to property taxes and the $1.5 million assessed value will not be subject to abatement when it goes back on the tax rolls, noted attorney Lou Britton, representing the proposed developers.
Asked by Council President Karrum Nasser, D-3rd, about seeking tax abatement before state tax credits are approved, Britton said those credits are awarded based on a point system that can include local public support.
“I’m happy to support this and wish we had this kind of creative partnership trying to save all of our significant historic buildings, especially the big ones like this,” said Councilman Todd Nation, D-4th.
“I see it as being a catalyst for stabilizing that neighborhood,” said Concilwoman Martha Crossen, D-6th.
The council discussed a resolution supporting placement of City Hall on the National Register of Historic Places.
Chris Usler, community preservation specialist with Indiana Landmarks, said such a designation places no restrictions on the city unless a building project uses federal funds. He said the designation would qualify the building for federal historic preservation assistance and strengthen fundraising efforts.
The adjacent Vigo County Courthouse is on the National Register.
Issues discussed Thursday may be voted on at the council’s regular monthly meeting at 6 p.m. Aug. 10.
Dave Taylor can be reached at 812-231-4299 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TribStarDave.