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Proposed Tax Levy Would Help Maintain Ballpark

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Copyright 2017 The Evansville Courier Co.
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Evansville Courier & Press (Indiana)

 

A bill in the Indiana General Assembly would create a 0.005 cents tax levy enabling the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp. to do capital improvements at Bosse Field.

State Rep. Wendy McNamara added the Bosse Field language to a bill which cleared the Indiana House on Monday. It now moves to the Senate.

The ballpark opened in 1915 and has been owned by the local public school system from its beginning. The EVSC since 1995 has leased Bosse Field to the Evansville Otters, an independent professional baseball club. It is also used for a few annual high school baseball games and other community events.

EVSC Superintendent David Smith said the legislation would amend an existing statue allowing Vanderburgh County to provide funds for historic building. The levy is capped at 0.005 cents per $100 assessed valuation.

"Certainly we would like to see that for Bosse Field," Smith said. "It is a community asset, but it's not in the core mission for EVSC to own a historic ballpark. I'm very passionate about Bosse Field, and I want to make sure Bosse Field has the opportunity to stand for decades to come."

The electrical system at Bosse Field "was new in 1957," Smith said. He said replacing that system, as well as lights and the roof covering the grandstand, altogether "would cost upward of $1.5 million."

Smith said the tax levy, if approved by the legislature and signed into law, would generate about $300,000 per year, depending on the countywide assessed value in a given year.

The push to create the tax levy came from the EVSC and not the Otters, although the Otters are well-aware of it, Smith said. When the school district renews its insurance, all of its properties are audited.

"The Otters have been great tenants there," Smith said. "They do a lot of maintenance themselves. It's an incredibly good field that they have. We have put in some improvements from time to time. There is a sports tax that Bosse Field itself generates from patrons who go there. It doesn't generate much money, but over the years it accumulates, so we're able those funds. But that's really the only source of revenue we have for it."

Smith said capital projects the tax levy would fund are essential to keeping the ballpark functioning -- not just cosmetic.

"Right now, if the electrical system goes out, we don't have a plan," Smith said. "And that's not where I want to be. The only other option if something like that happened would be shutting it down. We're talking about maintaining the integrity of Bosse Field so it stays a viable asset for the community. ... On an average home, (the tax) would be about 5 bucks. While it is on EVSC's levy, everyone in this city, county and school corporation can benefit."

Bill Bussing, owner of the Evansville Otters, said the team supports EVSC's action in requesting the tax levy.

"As the tenant, we recognize that the facility is in desperate need for some significant capital improvements," Bussing said. "The building itself is 102 years old. Much of the infrastructure dates back decades, if not a century. We also recognize that the school corporation's primary focus is on educating local children, as it should be. This bill would allow them to continue to do that and maintain Bosse Field without diverting any funds away from EVSC's core mission."

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February 28, 2017
 
 
 

 

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