Burns Harbor and
ArcelorMittal USA, the town’s largest taxpayer, have renewed talks over a
proposal that would extend the steelmaker’s current tax breaks into 2023.
proposed nine months ago, in return Mittal would pay off the remainder of
Burns Harbor’s outstanding sewer bonds as they come due freeing up more than
$500,000 annually for other town needs.
president Jim McGee confirmed Tuesday the matter will be discussed as a
status update at tonight’s council meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. at the
McGee said even
though Mittal’s current tax abatement doesn’t expire until 2013, the town
needs to decide on the proposal one way or another so it has some certainty
about future finances.
Aug. 10, 2011
the former Town Council announced they couldn’t come to a consensus on
Mittal’s request and tabled the matter until a new council took office Jan.
1. Since that time new members Jeff Freeze, Greg Miller and Gene Weibl have
been brought up to speed on the steelmaker’s proposal.
working diligently to share the information with the new council,” said
McGee, who like Mike Perrine are veteran members both re-elected to the
Bob Welsh has been verifying Mittal’s current intentions regarding the
abatement extension. Part of the 2011 negotiations were that Burns Harbor
would promise not to put the steel plant in a tax-increment financing or TIF
district during the agreement’s term.
Harbor officials had been discussing the Mittal proposal for some time last
year although not publicly, June 27 both the Town Council and the town’s
Redevelopment Commission met publicly for three hours discussing the tax
plan with Mittal representatives. Split votes that night led to town
adoption of required abatement paperwork that later could be approved,
modified or rescinded.
lengthy public hearing took place July 13, 2011 at which speakers
representing Duneland School Corp. said the Mittal proposal was unacceptable
because under one scenario the school district could see a potential annual
loss of $1.3 million in tax revenue.
Since that time
Duneland’s finances haven’t improved under the state’s education financing
formula and the school district has a referendum on the May 8 primary ballot
seeking to raise more local money.
Some speakers at
last year’s Burns Harbor public hearing urged the Town Council to go slowly
and consider renegotiating the abatement options, while other speakers said
the town needs to work with Mittal to assure it remains vital and in
financial advisors later McGee announced Aug. 10 the Mittal proposal was
being taken off the agenda until 2012.
on tonight’s Town Council agenda include discussion regarding a proposed
major increase in the town cumulative capital development fund rate, a visit
by Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore administrators, second reading of the
2012 salary ordinance, a lease agreement to retain the town’s drop-off
recycling site, a street-light cost increase, and engineering service
heads will report and the public may comment at the meeting’s conclusion
under audience participation.