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Ask The Mayor: Kokomo's Goodnight On Apperson Way Apartments

Kokomo downtown construction projects update, the need for a downtown convention center and big box store tax base controversy.

On this week's installment of Ask The Mayor, Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight addresses these issues and more. Listen to the full conversation with Indiana Newsdesk anchor Joe Hren by clicking on the play button above, or read some of the questions and answers below. A portion of this segment airs 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. Wednesday on WFIU.

This conversation has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

Hren: We are at 512 Apperson Way – a few blocks from Municipal Stadium at a special ribbon cutting ceremony for an apartment complex, why are these important for Kokomo?

Goodnight: This is tax credit housing for low to moderate income level families. Our master plan, we want Kokomo to be the most inviting place for all demographics. This neighborhood had a former gas station, a former factory and some places that did not really have any activity in a long time. So we've been able to clean up contamination and now we have a $9.5 million 69-unit apartment complex for families.

Hren: The Indiana legislature ended this past weekend, there’s everything from the budget bill to road funding to pre-K... I want to just open it up at first to get your overall reaction?

Goodnight: Two areas, the slight increase in hotel tax that we were looking for and the road funding tax. It looks like the tax will raise about $1.2 billion, the cities and towns will get 25 percent of that, not quite what we thought. Numbers show 80 percent of roads in the state are maintained by city or county government. So we're a little disappointed.

We were trying to get a hotel tax increase here, I think there were sixteen communities that were looking at doing this, from my understanding none of them were approved. We've done a good job of managing our hotel tax money and we are looking at a hotel convention center here in downtown Kokomo, we've been working on this for a number of years. That would have gotten us a little closer, but I'm still optimistic we can make this happen. It's going to take a little more work to make sure we have the funding mechanism.

Hren: Should local government get involved in a convention business, some may say that should be with a private develope?

Goodnight: I go to other cities, I was in Bloomington a few weeks ago, I stopped by Columbus a few weeks ago, I travel the state and look at other cities and that's what we want. We want to give people a reason who may have not been in Kokomo or even in the downtown area of Kokomo, we want them to come visit. Sometimes you have to have a small convention or conference to make that happen so we have to be sure we have that available space.

The goal is people come here, they want to come back and maybe invest here in a business venture or best case scenario they say this is a place they want to live and want to move here.

Hren: I have to ask your take on Thursday's Indiana Supreme Court hearing on big box stores tax bills. They want to pay taxes on when the building was sold, not when it's in use - which would create millions of dollars less in tax revenue for cities and counties.

Goodnight: This has a much broader impact than just Howard County. Howard County has taken the lead on this. But we knew this was going to happen when we put tax caps in. You have these big box retailers that are trying to devalue their investment and that puts a pinch on every unit of government. This is a fight we don't want to take on, but we have to and hopefully we'll get a fair hearing.

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