Common Council discusses sidewalk project, vacant properties | News

Rivai H Tukimen

The Logansport Common Council met on Monday to discuss FAST ACT Transportation Grant funding and an update to the city’s vacant property ordinance.

The council voted 5-2 to pass ordinances establishing funds and budgets for two phases of FAST ACT Transportation Grant funding. Scott Peattie and Amy Densborn voted against both ordinances.

The FAST ACT Transportation Grant was a federal program to improve transportation infrastructure. The grant was awarded to Logansport through Indiana’s Statewide Transportation Improvement Program. Logansport will use the money for school sidewalks and improved Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility.

The ordinance for Phase I created funding to complete the first phase of the project. The city must match 20 percent of the grant money received before the grant is executed in 2026, so the city is responsible for $218,900.

The ordinance allocates $54,725 to the FAST ACT Transportation Grant Fund each year from the city’s General Fund in 2023, 2024 and 2025. An additional $110,000 that was already budgeted this year will also be placed into the fund.

Peattie said he voted against the ordinances because part of the $110,000 that was already budgeted this year. Some of that money came from the city’s CEDIT fund, which Peattie said is “for business, not for sidewalks.”

The second ordinance pertaining to Phase II of the project created funding for the project’s second phase. The city’s 20 percent of that grant must be funded by 2027, and the city is responsible for $372,300.

From 2022 to 2026, Logansport will budget $74,460 from the General Fund each year into the FAST ACT Transportation Grant Fund Phase II.

After the project is completed, both funds will be closed. Any money left over will be transferred from the FAST ACT Transportation Grant funds back to the General Fund.

The council also discussed an ordinance to amend the city’s current vacant property ordinance. The new ordinance seeks to establish a registration list of vacant buildings to identify at-risk properties before they become blighted and would allow a third-party company to control registration and fees.

Amy Densborn was concerned that certain sections of the ordinance are unfair to residents. She specifically mentioned the ordinance’s definition of and abandoned buildings, which includes buildings that have been vacant for more than 90 days, and said some landlords have longer turnover periods where their homes are uninhabited yet still maintained.

“I’m not comfortable with some of the language in this ordinance,” she said.

Logansport Planning Department Executive Director Arin Shaver said there are ways to contest a vacant property designation. She and Logansport Building Commissioner Rob Rennewanz said the new ordinance will help enforce consequences for property owners whose buildings are in danger of falling into disrepair.

According to the ordinance, the third party company would create a list of vacant properties and their owners within the city. The company would then charge those owners a registration fee of $200 twice a year for as long as their property remained on the list.

Half of the $200 fee would remain with the third party. The additional $100 would be put into a city fund dedicated to improving homes and neighborhoods.

Shaver said the city is not responsible for paying the company because the money from registration fees would cover the cost and the company is responsible for getting that money from property owners.

Peattie and council member Carl McPherson said they also need more information about the ordinance before voting on it and asked that a representative from property registration company ProChamps be available to answer questions.

ProChamps is the company Shaver has communicated with about registering vacant properties in Logansport. The company currently oversees vacant property registration in states including Ohio and Illinois, but Logansport would be their first client in Indiana.

Council President Jake LeDonne spoke out in favor of the vacant property ordinance.

“I think this vacant property ordinance is a good thing,” he said. “In the end, I think it can be a really good thing for the city.”

The council ultimately agreed to table the ordinance to examine it further and speak with a ProChamps representative.

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