Grand Park Tax

Lisa Wilken,

Since you began this conversation on Nextdoor. I guess I’ll make this post for you. I have already emailed and spoken with a few Westfield City Councilors about this topic. To all of Westfield here is what I can gather about our taxes funding Grand Park. I will preface by saying this is all about the City of Westfield Indiana and it’s Food and Beverage Tax and Grand Park Funding.

Oh no. Not taxes

I’ll begin with an email I sent to all the City Council Members

Oct. 3rd 2019

In case I miss yet another chance to attend the next City Council Meeting.


I would like to address the Grand Park Tax.


Call me uneducated but I truly do not understand Fund 638. For the life of me I’m not sure why any of our tax dollars would still be going to Grand Park or any of it’s subsidiaries. 10 years ago we voted on these parks. Or at least I thought we did. I was young. I don’t really remember the details. That is beside the point. I was voting for Grand Junction as well. So whenever you can get around to completing that. I’d be real appreciative.  


Any idea that the Town of Westfield has about imposing a Grand Park Tax on it’s residents I strongly oppose. If for whatever reason we are still paying and will continue to be paying for a loan that was written to whomever I vote we pay in full or sell all the land. Whatever the case may be that this City is still giving money to Grand Park is of great concern to me as it should be for any of us here in Westfield. 
Thanks as always for your time,

Mr. Keen’s response

Also on the 3rd

There is no Grand Park Tax.  This fund is being established to deposit food and beverage tax dollars generated in Grand Park to be identified so that proper auditing can occur.  Right now, all food and beverage taxes in the City are in one fund and breaking it out not only helps audits, but also allows better tracking of receipts and expenses in Grand Park.  Again, this fund does not have any property tax dollars, nor income tax dollars in it.  Only food and beverage taxes generated by sales within Grand Park.  Hope this clarifies your inquiry.

Perfect,

Thank you Mr. Keen

My response in it’s entirety below

Perfect, 
thank you Mr. Keen.  
So, the only taxes actually going to Grand Park are from beverages sold within Grand Park. I’m not sure how I missed that and I appreciate you correcting my misunderstanding.  

President Keen’s response

The state makes budgeting more complicated than it should be, so east to miss things.

Silly me

But then Mr. Lehman responds

Thanks for your interests and concerns regarding both income and expenses of our city.  There is no GP tax assessment.  The fund that you referred to (638) was created for accounting purposes and to receive and track sales tax dollars from food and beverage.  It was originally created and adopted back in 2005 and was intended to be place since that time.  However, due to an internal error, the account was not created in 2005 as authorized.  The council recently confirmed the need for this creation and transfer and I (we) trust that has finally been accomplished.  Should have been long ago…..

This is a transfer, but it can appear to be a “new tax”.  It is not a new tax and this account will allow the city to manage our on-going income more efficiently.

Please be aware that tax dollars are being used to support GP and will totally be used to create, build and support GJ.  Again, these are much deeper matters that don’t have a simple one-line explanation.  But, I’m certainly willing to listen to your thoughts and questions and also share my thoughts.

I hesitate to respond in detail to these types of questions because they are not one-line answers.  I am always available to discuss city matters and that is more effectively accomplished in person, or with a phone call.  You are welcome to call me at any reasonable time. 

My best

Chuck Lehman

Now I’m even more concerned

A glitch?

I reply

Thanks Chuck for your response. 
As long as only taxes from GP revenue are going to GP I’m ok with it. Mr. Keen emailed me and said that only money from the food and beverage tax collected within GP would be going to the up keep of the facility. 
As long as that is the case. I’m ok with it. 
However, if that is not the case then I think I would like to discuss this further to better my own understanding.

I tried to warn you.

This is boring

But worth understanding

Council Lehman replies

I don’t believe that’s the case, but I’ve been wrong before.

F & B existed before GP and have certainly increased (directly from GP), but those funds are not location specific – that I am aware.

Confirm with Dr. Keen….

This is why I don’t like email chains.  One answer – several more questions.

Duly Noted

Mr. Edwards chimes in on 5th

My response to Mr. Edwards

On the 7th

Mr. Edwards thank you for noting. But, can you break a tie? 
Mr. Keen seems confident that any F&B tax being sent to GP are from sales within GP limits. Mr. Lehman not totally sure.

No response

If you’re still reading this I’m sorry. Maybe i’m missing something But, seeing that my question still seems to be unanswered I emailed the Westfield Clerk and Treasures Office.

This morning

Oct. 10th 2019

Sorry for interrupting your day. 
I believe the clerk treasure office is the correct office to direct this question and your name was the first on the list. So I’ll start with you.

I’m hoping to clear up my own understanding about Fund 635. Am I correct to believe that any tax dollars sent to sustain Grand Park from collection of the Food and Beverage Tax are from food and beverages sold within Grand Park. 
I’m sorry if this does not pertain to you or your department at City Hall. If you could forward this message to someone whom could answer it I would very much appreciate it. 
Just to be clear I have come to you after talking with the City Council and getting mixed signals. 
Thank you for your time,
Ken Tucker

City of Westfield Clerk Treasure

Response

No..this would be from ALL sources of Food and Beverage Taxes, not that just sold within Grand Park. There will however be a change to the Fund number to Fund 111 as it will now be maintained in the Corp account not Grand Park bank account. It will still be used for some Grand Park expenses.

If you have questions please feel free to call me at number listed below.

Thank you,

Wait I thought it was Fund 638?

Either way sounds like a tax to me.

All I wanted was a nice park downtown on this side of 32 to enjoy with my family. All I have so far is a parking lot, a hill, and Grand Park.

If any amount of our tax dollars go to Grand Park for any reason that is a tax. Lets just call it that way. I may not fully understand the ins and outs of all the business and city dealings, but I fail to see how GP is going to be anymore a success than it is right now. How long are we, the tax paying citizens of Westfield, going to be paying for the upkeep of GP? Maybe that is the next question. Perpetuity?

Thanks for caring.

I know you’re all thinking
it should be fell asleep

Ken

Update

I went to the City Council Meeting last week. Got tons of information. But in terms of my initial concerns the City has bought themselves a year. William Knox from Grand Park said that by 2020 Grand Park would be self sustaining. Neither Mayor Cook or The Council Members seem to know anything about the article published in the Indy Star by Kaitlin Lange on Sunday, Oct. 13th.

I’m not sure where she got her numbers

Mayor Cook

When I inquired about the doubling of funds allocated to Grand Park in next years budget of $800,000 up from $400,000. Either way I asked if whatever money given to the Park from the Cities food and beverage tax could be redistributed in 2020 once Grand Park becomes self sustaining. Mayor past it to the Council. No one answered. My time had ended long before this awkward exchange. New fund is 111 that city uses to fund Grand Park. 14 years after it was supposed to be set up.

2 comments

  1. Ken, I apologize for my delay in response to your email. I’ve had pneumonia and tough trying to catch up. Revenue from FB has been going into corporate account for years (that portion we receive here in Westfield as not all goes to Westfield…Indy gets a portion of that tax revenue too…that’s another issue altogether.) Administration wanted it taken out of corporate and put into GP, believing that increased revenue we are seeing from FB tax is attributable to GP, but also to help offset expenses incurred from hosting the Colts camp-arrangements our RDC and admin agreed to in our 10 year agreement. Instead of having a fund under GP to direct this tax revenue, it has now been proposed to have it as a fund under admin…which keeps it as a corporate account fund and not a separate account under grand park. This does not prevent those funds being used for GP though. Clear as mud…which is why you are hearing different explanations.
    Have you looked at the OpenGov site to view more about GP revenue and expenses? You won’t find everything there but if you look at find 640 you can look in detail at operating expenses. Debt is handled separately. A combination of income taxes and TIF revenue primarily cover debt payments, with goal to have it all on TIF ASAP, 2023-2024 expected. Personnel for GP has been paid out of general fund, but this is changing over to 640 operating. As always, contact me anytime to discuss anything further. Cspoljaric@westfield.in.gov or 317-695-6673.

    Like

    • Clear as mud indeed. Thank you for the information.

      I’m sorry to hear of your sickness. Forgive my ignorance but what does RDC mean? If I have any questions after reviewing revenue/expenses/TIF’s/Funds i’ll be sure to get back with any further questions.

      Thank you for your time

      Like

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