Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Airport TIF amended by RDC to further protect schools

Back To Front Page

By JEFF SCHULTZ

The Porter County Redevelopment Commission added language to a new confirmatory resolution for the proposed tax increment finance (TIF) area at the Porter County Regional Airport that will better protect schools in the future.

According to the amended resolution, the RDC cannot change the tax allocations of the TIF area without written consent of the corresponding school corporation, or in this case the East Porter County School Corporation.

The TIF district is primarily in Washington Township on the east side of Indiana 49 between State Rd. 2 and Division Road. It covers about six square miles including the airport itself, Porter County Expo Center and Fairgrounds to the south, the former Orville Redenbacher plant to east near CR 450E, and Washington Twp. School to the north.

The Airport TIF is on track to becoming the first TIF district ever established in unincorporated Porter County. A declaratory resolution has been approved by the RDC, the Plan Commission and the County Commissioners.

Thursday was the RDC’s public hearing for the confirmatory resolution that would be the ultimate step in implementing the TIF. Legal advisor Gregg Sobkowski said once approved, the resolution would go to the County Auditor and Treasurer and the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance. Only tax revenues from real property can qualify for use of the TIF by the redevelopment commission.

The RDC moved their meeting time from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. to make it more convenient for residents who wished to speak on the resolution, but the meeting saw only its usual attendants - East Porter County School Superintendent Rod Gardin with school board member Bob Martin. Also present was Liberty Twp. resident Tim Cole who has made the request that the RDC rekindle its consideration for a TIF district around Porter Regional Hospital and the U.S. 6 corridor.

Gardin and Martin commended the commission on their active cooperation in making sure the school corporation and the other overlapping taxing units can receive 40 percent of the new tax revenue. Sixty percent would go to the TIF district to invest in new infrastructure, utilities and public improvements.

“I appreciate the fact this commission has included the school corporation, and not just this school corporation, but any that may be affected in the future,” said Martin.

Gardin said he appreciated the language that mentioned that changes in allocation must require consent from the affected school district. It turns out he was reading an earlier draft of the declaratory resolution and the phrasing hadn’t appeared in the final version that was approved by the County Commissioners.

Sobkowski said that the RDC could make changes or amendments to the confirmatory resolution with comments that were given to them in the public hearing.

The commission - consisting of President Ric Frataccia, Dave Burrus, Robert Thompson and County Council members Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd, and Jim Polarek, R-4th, voted unanimously to restore the language.

Ralph Ayes, who serves as the RDC’s non-voting advisor on school corporations, questioned on a technical basis if the phrase “school corporation” specifically referred to East Porter County Schools or to any school corporation affected by the TIF district.

Based on the placement of the language, Sobkowski said the language would apply to any school district in the boundaries.

With the RDC’s approval, the resolution will now be forwarded to the County Commissioners to put it up to a vote on their board.

Frataccia complimented his peers on their work and said it was the commission’s goal from the start to come up with a scenario that would prevent harm befalling on the schools. “You all should be proud of yourselves,” he said.

As for getting back to the Liberty Twp. TIF plan at the hospital, Frataccia said he would prefer not to jump into that discussion quite yet as he would like to see the Airport TIF make it through the necessary hoops first.

“I would like for us to catch our breath,” he said.

The RDC will meet again on June 26. Thompson said the board at that time should discuss what changes are coming for local RDC’s stemming from new state laws that go into effect on July 1.

 

 

Posted 4/18/2014