Many questions have been asked about creating the town of Center Grove. We have compiled many of them here. If you don’t see your question, feel free to post it on our Facebook page, or send your question using the form at the bottom of this page.
What law governs creating a town?
You can find the Indiana State Code governing incorporation here.
Does Center Grove Have Enough Businesses Property to Support a Town?
Since businesses pay a higher property tax rate towns and cities like to have a lot of business property. Business property can help keep property tax rates lower. But a low level of business property in not required to keep a property tax rate reasonable. There are cities and towns with a high concentration of business property and a high property tax rate.
The second way to keep property taxes reasonable is to run an efficient and effective town. The plan for Center Grove calls for the town to provide the services effectively and efficiently. Center Grove would start with a small percentage of its assessed value coming from business property. Yet the proposed tax rate is lower than any town in Johnson County. Having a large business base is desirable but it is not a requirement to have a reasonable property tax rate.
Two more things to consider, a lower tax rate attracts businesses. The primary area for business expansion is allow the State Road 37/I-69 corridor. That is the largest remaining commercial area, not annexed by our neighbors. Growth in the area must be controlled locally so it benefits the Center Grove tax base, but does not harm Center Grove residents with the wrong mix of businesses the result of poorly planned development.
When do we get to vote?
Starting a town in Indiana is control by state law (read it here). The law states that to create a town, residents must petition their County Commissioners requesting that an area becomes a town. The Commissioners then review the submitted petition, hold a public meeting to hear input from those on both sides of the issue, and make the final decision as to if the area should be incorporated. The law does not call for, or permit, a public vote on the issue. Residents do have the right to ”remonstrate against” the new town. The details on that process are also located in the state law noted above.
What is going to happen to my property tax?
Every resident of a town or city pays a property tax to their town or city. Residents of the proposed town currently don’t pay a town tax. Your taxes will increase if the town is incorporated. However the impact on Center Grove residents is far less than if we are annexed in to Bargersville or Greenwood.
The tax rate submitted in the Petition to create the town is about 25 cents per $100 of net assessed value. A simple way to look at that is if your property tax statement says your home is valued at $100,000 your taxes will increase about $82 a year. If Bargersville annexes you, your taxes will go up. Greenwood’s rate is about 38 cents while Bargersville’s is about 76 cents. If you remain in the unincorporated area, the increased cost of providing services will likely drive County taxes up.
The Center Grove property tax rate can be lower than our neighbors because of the limited government model that is being used to create the town. The proposed budget for the town keeps cost low. By entering into contracts with the county or businesses to provide services instead of buying cars and trucks and hiring a bunch of employees expenses are dramatically reduced. The town will also receive about $2.8 million in revenue from taxes you already pay but don’t come to our community because we are not a city or town. About half of the towns total budget needs will be covered by taxes we already pay.
We also want to remind you that “doing nothing” is unlikely to prevent a property tax increase. If Greenwood annexes you, your taxes will go up.
Why didn’t we do this years ago? Isn’t it too late?
We cannot speak to why this did not happen earlier. It is not too late. With a limited government approach we have shown a viable town can exist within the unincorporated area. There is enough remaining property available for homes and other development. A Chinese proverb says “The best to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the second best time is now.”
I moved to here to get away from the city. Why should I want Center Grove to become a town?
We certainly understand how you feel. Many people who now support the creation of the town of Center Grove have felt the same way. However, when they looked at what is happening around us they noticed a problem that needed to be addressed. Some of those issues include annexation of prime commercial areas, declining tax revenues, and a strain on the county budget making it difficult to repair neighborhood streets.
They asked themselves how we protect what we have. They concluded that if we are to protect our community our only option is to create a town with limited government, and a low tax rate. The Citizens for Center Grove plan does not take control of your future but is designed to protect it. For example if you have a clothesline today, you will be able to keep it under the town rules. Town government is not a home owners association. An elected town council will busy looking to the future, not trying to change what residents have already built. No one can stop things from changing but local government can control how things change.
Is there a difference between a city and a town?
Yes. Both are defined by state law. A town is required to have an elected clerk-treasurer and a part-time town council. A city also needs a mayor. There are also several levels of cities. Larger towns generally hire a town manager to handle the day-to-day operation of the town.
What actions are required for Center Grove to become a town?
All of the detailed requirements can be found in Indiana Code 36-5-1. Here’s the short version:
A petition signed by at least fifty (50) owners of land in the area to be incorporated.
The petition for incorporation must be accompanied by the following items, to be supplied at the expense of the petitioners:
A survey, certified by a surveyor registered under IC 25-21.5, showing the boundaries of and quantity of land contained in the territory sought to be incorporated.
An enumeration of the territory’s residents and landowners and their mailing addresses, completed not more than 30 days before the time of filing of the petition and verified by the persons supplying it.
A statement of the assessed valuation of all real property within the territory, certified by the township assessor of the township in which the territory is located, or the county assessor if there is no township assessor for the township.
A statement of the services to be provided to the residents of the proposed town and the approximate times at which they are to be established.
A statement of the estimated cost of the services to be provided and the proposed tax rate for the town.
The name to be given to the proposed town.
What area will be incorporated?
Any area within White River Township that is not currently part of a town or city. View a map of the proposed area here.
What’s the problem with doing nothing? Does it really matter if we are a group of homes surrounded by other towns and the county takes care of us?
It does matter. C4CG has studied unincorporated areas across the USA and found that virtually all of them face difficult choices. Decreased services, increased taxes and declining home values. These “unincorporated island” are a problem. Many states are taking action to prevent them from developing or requiring neighboring communities to annex these areas. We have tried to become part of Greenwood, but the reorganization effort failed. Bargersville has annexed large portions of the south part of the township but doesn’t appear interested in resdiental areas such as Center Grove. Learn more about the problems of Unincorporated Island’s here.
The Township has over $600,000 in the bank. What happens to this money if we form a town?
Incorporation will not change White River Township government. That money will remain with the township.
What is the likelihood that Greenwood and/or Bargersville will annex prime commercial areas during the process? Is there a way to stop further annexations during the incorporation process?
The petition to incorporate was submitted to the County Commissioners on August 7, 2012. That means that proposal to create the town of Center Grove is “first in time”. From that date on no annexations can take place unless the incorporation effort fails. If it passes, annexations of Center Grove will never occur; if it fails they can begin again with residents being unable to stop selective annexation.
Do Greenwood and Bargersville have to approve of incorporation?
Greenwood (and Indianapolis – we don’t expect them to have any objection) would have to permit the town to be formed within their “buffer zones.” Since Bargersville is a town, not a city, they don’t have buffer zone and therefore their permission is not required.
Will Greenwood allow the town to be incorporated within their three mile buffer zone, up to their current city limits?
The County Commissioners will have to ask the City of Greenwood to see if Greenwood will allow the town of Center Grove to be incorporated within their buffer zone. Before the November 2011 elections the Daily Journal contacted members and candidates for the Greenwood Common Council and their response indicated that the Council would be willing to waive the three mile limit and allow us to incorporate. Recent comments from some Greenwood Common Council members are bothersome.
Is there a difference between a city and a town?
Yes. Both are defined by state law. A town is required to have an elected clerk-treasurer and a part-time town council. A city also needs a mayor, and a number of departments and department heads. It costs more to operate a city than a town. Fishers, which is much larger than Greenwood, is a town, while Greenwood recently became a second class city. There are three levels of cities in Indiana. Larger towns generally hire a town manager to handle the day-to-day operation of the town, under the direction of the elected town council.
Find more answers to questions about the town in the “Advantages” section.
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