Council weighing creation of revolving loan fund

COLUMBIA CITY — A special fund is being mulled by the Columbia City Common Council that could make money available to local businesses for economic development-type improvements.The council heard the first reading of an ordinance establishing a “Revolving Loan Program” during its regular meeting Tuesday night.According to Mayor Jim Fleck, the city’s redevelopment commission has funds earmarked for economic development.He said Tuesday night that establishing the Revolving Loan Fund will consolidate all the money into one fund to be used by local businesses in the Downtown Columbia City Tax Increment Financing District for loans.Fleck said the RLF is state-approved “as a fund from which you could borrow from, but would have to be repaid so the amount (in the fund) could stay the same.”A question was asked by Council Member Walter Crowder.“So this (establishing the fund) is just the logistics of creating a place for holding that money?” Crowder asked.The mayor confirmed Crowder’s assessment.“We need this so that we can get the type of redevelopment which will greatly help all that needs to be improved,” Fleck said.Part of the money that will go into the fund includes $100,000 awarded in a state grant to the Columbia City Redevelopment Commission by the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority. The commission is required to match the grant, the ordinance reads.The loan program will be administered by the commission. The uses will be to “directly stimulate and improve the appearance and structural conditions of downtown buildings by granting low-interest loans for exterior or interior rehabilitation of existing downtown buildings,” according to the ordinance.The loans will be issued with an interest rate of one percent over the U.S. Treasury’s Daily Curve Rate.