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Evansville Courier & Press (Indiana)
Now that legislation has passed enabling the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp. to create a tax levy for Bosse Field, the school district will spend a year evaluating what the 102-year-old baseball park needs the most.
The list of possibilities figures to be long, and expensive. It could include electrical work, lights illuminating the field, and the roof covering seating areas.
The General Assembly passed legislation that allows for a levy not to exceed 0.005 cents per $100 assessed valuation. The levy is expected to raise about $300,000 per year.
EVSC officials estimate Bosse Field needs more than $1.5 million worth of basic improvements.
They said about half of the projected annual allotment, $150,000 or so, will be available a year from now. An EVSC board would be established to administer funds collected.
"We want to have a good understanding of the current needs of the facility," said EVSC spokesman Jason Woebkenberg. "So once the funding comes available, there is a plan for the needs available and in one order."
The public school system has owned the ballpark since it opened in 1915. The Evansville Otters have leased the facility since 1995, the longest-running franchise in the Frontier League, an independent professional league. The Otters' first home games of the 2018 season are this weekend.
Bosse Field also is used for high school baseball games and other community events.
Mayor Lloyd Winnecke in March said he supports preserving Bosse Field but opposes the EVSC's move to make improvements via a new tax levy.
"My opposition to the tax has not changed," Winnecke said last week. "I'm sensitive to tax increases based on how I know (water and sewer) utility rates have been going and will continue to go for years to come due to the federal mandate and the changes we know we need to make. Having said that, I think there are some possibilities for improvements to Bosse Field that would not allow that tax to be enacted."
One such possibility would be using funds from the city's Jacobsville Tax Increment Financing District to pay for upgrades. The Jacobsville TIF is funding the ongoing North Main Street renovation project, scheduled for completion this year.
"We're not far enough down the road yet," Winnecke said. "We've just had only preliminary discussion with EVSC about what the future would look like, in terms of a potential partnership with the city. We've not had any discussion with City Council leadership to get their feelings on that, we just haven't had time and haven't made it a priority yet."
Winnecke said he recognizes improvements to the ballpark are needed, "we just have to figure out what the right funding source is."
Woebkenberg said the school district is preparing to move forward with renovations to the ballpark using the new levy and could not address other possibilities.
Superintendent David Smith wasn't available for comment last week.
"We know without a doubt (Winnecke) is very supportive of this community, whether you're talking about historic structures or quality of life," Woebkenberg said. "He shares the same goal we do of how to make things better in this community."
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