Corporation created to oversee center project


JASPER — The Jasper Public Library Board took another step toward funding the Thyen-Clark Cultural Center at a special meeting Thursday.

At the meeting, the board approved a resolution forming a limited liability corporation to oversee the project, primarily the $3.5 million in tax credits the Indiana Economic Development Corporation awarded the project.

Since both the city and the library are not taxed, they must sell the tax credits to investors to get the funding. The LLC will be responsible for selling the tax credits to investors and managing the money as it is dispersed to the building of the cultural center, which will unite the library and Jasper Community Arts Commission in a single building at the corner of Third and Mill streets.

The LLC will include a three-member board that the library and arts boards will appoint. Library Director Christine Golden and Arts Director Kyle Rupert will also serve on the LLC as authorized representatives of their respective organizations. The LLC board will not be able to make decisions without approval from the arts commission and library board.

“Neither group is giving up any decision-making,” Golden emphasized at the library board meeting.

The city also had to approve entering an LLC with the library. The arts commission and Jasper Common Council took the necessary actions back in 2017 when the initial bonding for the city’s portion of the project was approved. City Attorney Renee Kabrick said the city went ahead with approving the LLC then because they knew it would have to be done eventually.

“The rules and bonding process are different for the city than they are for the library,” Kabrick said. “That’s why you’re seeing a little bit different process.”

With the LLC in place, Indianapolis-based Ice Miller, a law firm providing bond counsel for the project, can accept bids for the credits. As of Thursday afternoon, there were two bids in the works, with the best offer paying 80 percent of the total, or about $2.8 million. There will also be fees associated with the process that the city and library will pay out of the $2.8 million.

“(The smaller amount) is disappointing,” Golden said. “But I look at is as it’s still money to go toward the project we wouldn’t have otherwise.”

Golden told the board that the smaller amount is not expected to affect the project’s roughly $13 million budget, which is split between the city and library. In the budgeting process, developer City Properties Group of Louisville built in two large contingencies to cover any shortfalls in funding. That said, there are some budget concerns going forward, Golden said, mainly what current tariffs in international trade may do to steel and aluminum prices. The project will still happen, but more items from the wish list may have to be cut.

The project is progressing on schedule, with demolition crews currently removing the century-old Hoosier Desk factory that used to sit on the corner of Mill and Third streets. Crews have until September to complete the demolition, and construction is scheduled to begin immediately afterward. Requests for proposals for construction will go out around mid August, and the library and arts boards will choose a contractor based on those proposals.

The Thyen-Clark Cultural Center is scheduled to be complete in 2020.

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