Monroe County, Ind., Offers Tax Incentives to Attract Broadband

Commissioners voted to approve an Infrastructure Development Zone in the northern part of the county. The tax exemption only includes “the installation of fiber to homes, businesses, schools and publicly owned buildings.”

by Ernest Rollins, The Herald-Times / June 7, 2019

(TNS) — Broadband providers looking to expand services in northern Monroe County, Ind., can now seek a tax exemption to help defray some costs if their project takes place within a certain designated area.

The Monroe County Board of Commissioners approved on Wednesday creating an Infrastructure Development Zone in northern Monroe County. The creation of the zone would allow the county to approve a personal property tax exemption to encourage utility investments — specifically broadband — in the area.

In taxation terms, personal property refers to the equipment that businesses use to produce income, according to the Department of Local Government and Finance website.

The tax exemption “shall only include the installation of fiber to homes, businesses, schools and publicly owned buildings,” according to the ordinance creating the development zone. “The exemption shall not be available for maintenance and refurbishment to existing facilities or land that the infrastructure is located on.”

In addition, the tax exemption will only be made available to broadband infrastructure projects completed within the next five years, the ordinance states.

Infrastructure Development Zones can also be used to help develop gas, wastewater or public water infrastructure if it is lacking in a particular area. County Attorney Jeff Cockerill said there is no evidence suggesting that the lack of such infrastructure is an issue in the northern portion of the county.

However, it is a different story when it comes to broadband.

The county commissioners’ office has received calls about the lack of adequate broadband service in the area. Cockerill said there are approximately 4,500 homes located in the area where county officials hope to attract broadband investment to improve residents’ internet access and spur future economic development.

Cockerill said the county finds that investment in broadband can help promote economic development by providing additional business, educational, medical and affordable housing options. He added such investment is not likely to occur without a subsidy.

The commissioners are aware that there are other areas of the county where there is inadequate broadband service.

“Hopefully, we can expand this map,” Monroe County Commissioner Julie Thomas said.

©2019 the Herald-Times (Bloomington, Ind.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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