One motion away
from becoming the first tax increment finance area in unincorporated Porter
County, the County Commissioners put the so-called Airport TIF and Economic
Development Area on hold to study the City of Valparaiso’s proposal of
creating an “Airport Development Zone” instead.
The zone would be
at the Porter County Regional Airport located in Washington Township on the
northeast corner of U.S. 30 and Ind. 49.
A hearing and vote
on the TIF had been on the Commissioners’ agenda for Tuesday.
RDC member and Plan
Commission Executive Director Robert Thompson said the RDC had approved 40
percent of TIF revenue going to local taxing units while the remaining 60
percent would be retained for economic development projects within the
Language was added
to the resolution requested by East Porter County Schools that would give a
school district the authority to veto a change to the allocation agreement.
It also favored
giving extra shares of TIF money to the schools in the form of grants for
educational programming related to economic development.
In May, the City of
Valparaiso came before the RDC with “some objections,” Thompson said, and
instead sought a cooperative effort with the County to create an ADZ which
would need to be created through a new state statute.
There are seven
ADZs in Indiana created with special legislation, Thompson said, including
the Gary/Chicago International Airport.
Either an Airport
Authority Board or the County Commissioners could collect the funds, not an
RDC, he said. The guidelines for expenditures in an ADZ are “very specific”
in that revenues could only be used for development or training programs at
the airport, Thompson said. None would be passed to local taxing units, he
The airport could
also potentially become a foreign trade zone which would mean reductions on
tariffs on importing items, Thompson said. To become a foreign trade zone, a
specific item must be exported out of the airport, he added.
Thompson said he
didn’t know if an ADZ was a prerequisite for a foreign trade zone but it
could not be done under a TIF.
He also said
Valparaiso has the utilities needed to accomplish tasks outlined in the “In
Plane View,” plan, a guide for the airport’s development. If TIF’d, the city
could not annex any of the area, he said.
Another concern the
city had was that the 60/40 agreement would set a precedent as well as
giving the schools the power to block proposed changes to the agreement.
Laura Shurr Blaney, D-South, asked what the opinion of the RDC was on the
city’s proposal. Thompson said no recommendation was made and it was left to
the Commissioners to decide how to go forward.
President John Evans, R-North, said he did “not want to be ungrateful to the
(RDC) for doing a yeomen’s task” in putting the plan together but said he
would like to wait to hear from state lawmakers before taking action.
He also said that
the area would not be able to get utilities from anywhere but Valparaiso. “I
think we would be remiss if we don’t go forward with that.”
Blaney moved to
table the TIF resolution as East Porter Schools Superintendent Rod Gardin
raised objections to the ADZ not passing property tax revenue on to local
economic growth keeps our county vitalized but we need to make sure that
growth is helpful to all (taxing units) who provide resources throughout the
county,” Gardin said.
As far as the 60/40
tax revenue split, Gardin said his school district already has the same type
of agreement with Valparaiso in the Porter Vale area.
Gardin asked more
than once what benefits an ADZ could provide that a TIF zone could not.
Evans said that is
something he would like to find out by gathering information. “I think we
have a situation that requires a little more study,” said Evans, who added
that he doesn’t want to have regrets later.
Gardin said he
believed the Commissioners had the power to dissolve a TIF if there is a
need to once the ADZ concept is studied and asked that they go forward with
There is no
guarantee that the ADZ legislation would be passed, he said.
While not at the
meeting, RDC president E. Ric Frataccia told the Chesterton Tribune
last week he agreed the measure should be tabled. Frataccia is the
superintendent of Portage Twp. Schools, which would not be covered by either
the TIF or the ADZ.
Blaney said the
motion to table does not mean she was in favor of an ADZ, but “just wanted
to learn more about it first.”
Also voting to
table was Commissioner Nancy Adams, R-Center.
This marks the
second time a County TIF plan has been shelved. The County Redevelopment
Commission also tabled a proposed TIF district at U.S. 6 near Porter
Regional Hospital in Liberty Township.