Hope Town Council has a plan in place to revamp the way the town's economic development income tax grants are distributed to community groups. 

At last week's Town Council, council members said that they have reached a consensus on how to handle and oversee the distribution of the income tax revenue to local organizations. Over the past months, the council has wrangled with the issue of who should advise the council on the distribution, how decisions on how those distributions should be handled and on what that money should be spent.

One thing that was never in question, was if the Town Council would continue to support local events and organizations, said Councilman Clyde Compton, who also serves as a member of the EDIT committee. 

Since starting the process about 10 years ago, the town sets aside a portion of the money it receives from income tax revenue for local requests. The money has been used to fund events such as Hope Heritage Days and the Old-Fashioned Independence Days, community cleanups and HSJ Online, among others. 

Requests were first heard by a group called the EDIT committee appointed by the council, but that group came under fire because several members lived outside the town limits. Councilwoman Nellie Meek also raised concerns that the deliberations were not held as part of a public meeting. Instead, applicants were asked to leave the room during discussions. The recommendations then came to the Hope Town Council for final approval. 

The council agreed at a working session last month to appoint four town residents to the board and a council member, to make a five-person committee. Council members would have an appointment to the committee, from residents within their ward. And in the event of a tie, such as absent members or members abstaining from a vote, the clerk-treasurer would have tie-breaking power. 

The council is also planning to lock in funding for several local events and organizations who return annually, such as Hope Heritage Days. Those funds were calculated by averaging the past three years worth of requests from the groups and would be disbursed annually as long as the money is available.

At last week's council meeting, the council asked attorney Scott Andrews to draft an ordinance codifying their conclusions. Compton provided a list of suggested guidance and by-laws. Among the proposed new rules is one requiring that applicants demonstrate they have sought funding from other organizations prior to asking for town money, and to show that the money will have an impact on the citizens of Hope, as the money comes from their taxes. 

The bylaws changes also stress that the EDIT committee meet in open and public sessions and that those sessions be held in the Town Hall, as opposed to the previous venue of the Hope Branch of the Bartholomew County Public Library. The meetings would also be conducted according to Indiana statute and under Robert's Rules of Orders.