Redevelopment Commission President Jeff Good said that there is no ambition
currently on the County’s part to create tax increment finance (TIF)
districts in the unincorporated areas.
The RDC met
Wednesday to reorganize for 2017 with four new members -- Good, County
Council President Mike Jessen and Valparaiso business owners Jason Gilliana
and Stephen Sularaski. Returning is Don Ensign, a former member of the
Hebron Town Council.
Good, who is
president of the County Board of Commissioners, was elected president for
the RDC. Jessen and Gilliana were elected as vice-president and secretary,
Scott McClure will serve as the RDC’s attorney, replacing Greg Sobkowski.
The RDC was last
revamped in 2012 by the Commissioners to study a potential TIF area around
Porter Regional Hospital at Ind. 49 and U.S. 6 in Liberty Twp. to capture
revenues from new commercial properties for economic development. When the
plan met opposition over concern that the TIF would divert tax dollars away
from public schools, the Commissioners directed the RDC to consider the
Porter County Regional Airport. The TIF there was tabled too, as there were
talks with the City of Valparaiso on creating an airport development zone.
members of the Woodville Foundation asked the RDC last year to look at the
prospect of a Liberty Twp. TIF again after the RDC favored passing revenues
on to schools. The Foundation presented a list of projects they would like
to see a TIF accomplish, like expanding sewer and water utilities and
putting in sidewalks.
The RDC ended 2016
saying it would wait to have direction from new leadership on the
Good made it clear
that the RDC is starting with a clean slate, that “doesn’t have any
preconceived projects or ideas right now.” That includes TIFs.
“I know this board
has spent a lot of years talking about studying TIFs. TIFs are just another
tool in the toolbox that I think a lot of municipalities use a lot,” Good
said, adding that this was the consensus from the other two commissioners.
“We don’t really see a need to TIF out there in the County right now,
although I wouldn’t say that is something we would never do. If we ever do
it will probably be brought to us from a municipality.”
What the RDC would
like to do is to look for areas in the unincorporated area that would
benefit from having better utilities and roads, along with opportunities for
collaboration with local municipalities, he said.
“We just want to
get this board into power,” said Good.
The County’s RDC is
different from those in cities and towns because the county does not have
its own utilities, McClure said. That puts more limitations on what they can
do. But like municipal RDCs, the County RDC can statutorily own or sell
property, McClure said. It does not need approval from the County Council to
spend on items in its budget, although the Council would need to approve its
budget each year.
The budget for 2017
has $450,000 in funds received from the Porter Regional Hospital’s tax
abatement agreement to be used for economic development. The Commissioners
have planned in their budget to supply $100,000 this year to the RDC. The
RDC approved paying two invoices, one to Cender and Company for $1,556 for a
year-end financial report and $570 to Sobkowski for attorney services.
Good said he and
McClure will plan workshops for the new RDC members “to learn the nuts and
bolts.” There is no regular meeting schedule yet but there may be when
projects get underway, he said.