Moving up in class may bring more money for West Lafayette

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – For more than 35,000 reasons, West Lafayette could soon become a Class 2 city. The change in classification could come after the city’s recent annexation, giving current residents better representation and bring in more state funding.

After the highly-anticipated West Lafayette annexation became finalized in February, the city’s new boundaries have been established.

“The focus was to expand our boundaries and to increase our geographic footprint and then to encompass within that geographic footprint, the 231 corridor,” said Mayor John Dennis.

That geographic footprint now encompasses more than 35,000 people, putting it into the range of a Class 2 city. It was the focus of the city’s pre-council meeting Thursday afternoon. According to Indiana code, Class 2 cities have between 35,000 and 600,000 residents and bring some changes from Class 3 cities.

“The biggest thing will be basically administratively. The council districts are going to change, we’ll add an additional councilor, some of our committees will actually have more representation,” Dennis said. “But other than that, everything from the Class 3 city that we are now will pretty much mirror the Class 2 that we will soon be, pending council approval.”

Mayor John Dennis said being a Class 2 city could bring more state funding.

But one council woman isn’t quite sold, Vicki Burch said she needs to see some specific examples of what the change in classification would mean for West Lafayette and hopefully before Monday night’s meeting.

“Not just the city has more opportunities for grant funding or tax dollar funding, I would like to have specific examples of what tax dollars. Funding for what? Roads? What would it be?” asked Burch.

With or without Burch’s vote, Dennis said the city needs to wrap up the process by November — a year ahead of the municipal elections. He said there have been some challenges because there’s no how-to guide to move from a Class 3 to Class 2.

“The challenges, obviously, have been just trying to find some sort of data that supports what we’re trying to achieve — second off to following the appropriate procedure to make sure it’s legal,” said Dennis.

The council is scheduled to have a first vote on the classification Monday night. Dennis said some legal work has to be done, then the council will vote a second and final time either at the July or August meeting.

Also at Monday’s meeting, there will also be a public hearing on the city’s move to use rainy day funds to help pay for the costs of this winter.

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