TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV)– The Vigo County Council approved over $7 million in proposals Tuesday night, officially letting four projects move to the next stage.

The largest initiative involves $5 million for housing with Thrive West Central. The City of Terre Haute is making a similar investment– something Vigo County Commissioner Chris Switzer believes is crucial for development in the community.

“The goal with [American Rescue Plan Act] funds was to touch every corner of the community in some way,” he said. “One of the biggest ways was with a collaboration with the city, and this $5 million from the city to get several million dollars worth of housing developed in this community and add to our tax base that is decreasing year after year because our population is declining.”

ARPA is a federal program established during the pandemic that is the primary funding source for these projects. Other ARPA requests approved during Tuesday’s meeting include $1,000,000 for local trail improvements, $768,000 for a maintenance building that will include space for multiple county departments and $500,000 towards the relocation of the Rose-Hulman Ventures site. 

Switzer said he was satisfied to see these projects move on– after over a year of discussions and meetings to get to this point.

“We feel great. This is a year in the making, we’ve had several meetings with several different partners in the community, and we’re really excited to get these projects off the ground. I believe we only have two or three requests left,” he said. 

The council also made a decision on raises for county employees, a topic that’s been discussed for much of 2023. Baker Tilly completed a study that found most departments were under the “market level” for their employees. The council voted to move salaries this year to a 25 percentile established by the study– retroactive to July 1st– for around 270 employees, according to council president Todd Thacker. The 25 percentile represents a number between a “minimum” established in the study, and the market level. 

“Our goal is to get everybody to the midpoint, which is the 50th percentile, which is very confusing for people,” he said. “25% is halfway between 50% and the minimum. So that’s what we got them to.”

Any employee who is making more than that number– or those in departments that have already been discussed and voted on separately– will not be impacted. Thacker said they are working to further increase salaries in the 2024 budget– hoping to get everybody to the market level if possible.

“We’re looking at our levies, what money we have coming in, what money got going out, we’re trying to be fiscally responsible,” he said. “That’s ongoing, now that we have a bar set that we raised them up to, effective July 1st, then we’ll look at, whatever we do on the budget will be that 25% plus whatever we can afford.”