Ahead Writer / Janelle Morrison
The Local Economy
“We’ve got one month of revenue in from the public safety tax, the LIT funding [local income tax], and that is really going to change things,” Haak said. “We are working through validating the LIT funding that once validated, everything else will piggyback off that including our road budget. That will increase and we will revamp our budget so the 2018 budget will look completely different than what it has in the past. The public safety dollars will increase while increasing funds for our road dollars and park dollars. The town’s overall financial stability is much more stable than where it was a couple of years ago. Assessed values are increasing and the commercial projects like LIDS and FedEx are finally getting onto the tax rolls.
“Our goal of an 80-20 percentage breakdown of residential and commercial tax revenue by 2020 is on track. Nine years ago, when I came on the town council, we were at 95 percent residential. We are currently in the 87-88 percent range. That is a big needle to shift and is a healthy stat for the community. That progress is due to the group efforts of the council members and staff. The business model of being a primarily residential community doesn’t work anymore with property tax caps.”
“In addition to housing the Zionsville Chamber of Commerce, we are talking with another group about moving in the other space up there in the new Town Hall,” Haak stated. “The discussions continue with businesses that are interested in the parcels that will be available for development once the old town hall is demolished. We are in early stage discussions with a number of people and companies in regards to Creekside. Some of the businesses are local and some are from outside of Zionsville.”
“We are moving forward with our projects slated in 2017 while planning for future road and infrastructure projects,” he explained. “It is definitely a focus for us, with projects in the works that will address drainage issues, aging roads, and our intersections. We are moving forward with the stop light installation at the intersection of Oak Street and Kissel Road to improve that situation. It will eventually be upgraded to a double-lane round-a-about that would necessitate approximately $1.6 million in additional funding. The round-a-about scheduled for installation at the intersection of Mulberry Street and Ford Road will begin after school has let out for the summer.
We are also working on two joint projects with the county roads 700E and 550. Those will be redone and repaved and of course, the pathway along 700 E will be constructed. The 96th Street and Zionsville Road intersection will be completed this summer. The contracts were awarded, and we are moving ahead. We are looking at 2018 for the 96th to 106th Street improvements along Zionsville Road. All the residents are aware of the project, and we’ve had a couple of meetings with them on this matter. When we get to 30 percent design and engineering phase, we will have a public meeting to discuss what the road will look like and additional details at that time.”
New Town Hall President
Elizabeth Hopper took office in January. “I’ve known Elizabeth for almost six years,” Haak said. “She was part of that early 80-20 by 2020 process. We have great lines of communication with her and the council. We meet with the president and vice-president of the council every Friday. It is nice to continue the history of having common goals with the members of the council.”
Making Zionsville marketable
“Companies like MOBI and hc1.com and the inclusion of zWORKS in the business sector have really helped market Zionsville to other businesses, their employees, and the millennial, gen Y, etc., demographics,” Haak explained. “It’s the entrepreneurial type jobs that attract that demographic and the fact that we’re one of the only co-working spaces that’s really in the heart of a downtown. They walk around town, and they spend their dollars on Main Street.
We’re looking to expand zWORKS and when companies ‘graduate’ from zWORKS, we assist in helping find a place for them to stay here. Once people come here, they fall in love with it and they want to keep their businesses here and raise their families here. What’s exciting to see are the existing businesses reinvesting in their businesses. The remodeling project at Cobblestone is a great example of updating and adapting with the times and evolving demographic. Rush on Main is successful, and their customers enjoy the venue despite being located on a second floor. Noble Order, which doesn’t serve food, is another awesome place and tasting room. I know that my family enjoys the variety that I didn’t have while growing up in Zionsville.”