Chesterton Tribune



Collaboration on Airport TIF advances between County and Valparaiso

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Discussions between the Porter County Redevelopment Commission and the City of Valparaiso’s RDC progressed this week toward establishing a tax increment finance district around the Porter County Regional Airport.

The County RDC met Thursday, two days after a joint meeting at the Valparaiso Schools Administration Building to discuss the partnership.

Earlier this summer, the County RDC was prepared to submit their final resolution to create a TIF with language that stated 40 percent of the new assessed values in the TIF area would be passed on to East Porter County Schools and other taxing units, but Valparaiso RDC Executive Director Patrick Lyp approached the board with a proposal for an “airport redevelopment zone” combining each commission’s resources.

Lyp’s proposal puzzled county RDC members Jeremy Rivas and Jim Polarek, who asked why the project should be derailed after months of planning and discussion had already gone in to the confirmatory resolution.

On Thursday, RDC president E. Ric Frattacia said both the County and the City commissions agreed this past week to protect the schools.

The one objection the city had, Frataccia said, was to language giving the school district the authority to veto changes the RDC might make on the 40/60 allocation agreement. That language could change, he added.

Frataccia said discussions will continue between Lyp, County RDC member Bob Thompson, financial adviser Dan Botich and the RDC’s attorney Gregg Sobkowski.

A draft of the partnership is expected to be presented to the County RDC at its next meeting, set for Oct. 23.

The goal of the Airport TIF would be to set an example of how different RDCs can work together on proposed TIF areas in the future, Frataccia said. An area of concern is at U.S. 6 in Liberty Twp. near Porter Regional Hospital, which is within the boundaries of the Duneland School Corporation.

Sobkowski reminded the commission that state statute allows RDCs to grant 15 percent of its TIF revenue to respective schools or other educational instructions whose curriculum promotes economic development. Polarek said he would like the 40/60 percent plan maintained so that other taxing units like the fire departments and libraries can also benefit.

Non-voting RDC member and Duneland School Board president Ralph Ayres said the commission can study the language in resolutions of other local TIF resolutions that pass money on to schools.

Ayres said schools are the cornerstone of economic development because when businesses locate, they want to know the quality of education in an area.

“The schools are a big part of the question,” he said. “How they can be included I think should be a part of this.”



Posted 9/19/2014




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