Chesterton Tribune



County RDC learns TIF basics, mulls possible Liberty Township district

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The prospect of establishing Porter County’s first tax increment finance (TIF) area in an unincorporated area may be picking up steam as the County Redevelopment Commission met Thursday to hear what benefits can arise from a TIF.

RDC President E. Ric Frataccia asked the board’s financial advisor Bryan Schuch to give a presentation on what the steps would be to create a TIF allocation area to provide guidance for moving forward with plans for one in Liberty Twp., near Porter Regional Hospital on U.S. 6.

“I want to make sure we are all on the same page with this,” Frataccia told his colleagues.

The TIF’s boundaries as proposed start at the Ind. 149 and U.S. 6 intersection, extending east down the U.S. 6 right-of-way. It then widens at CR 75 W for about half a mile north and moves east to Elmwood Drive Rd. Then at Meridian Rd. it extends to CR 900N to the north and CR 700N to the south, until it reaches N. Calumet Ave., and then follows the U.S. 6 right-of-way to the Jackson Twp. line at CR 200E.

The intention of the Liberty Twp. TIF, first discussed shortly after the hospital opened in 2012, is to capture taxes from new commercial developments to be used to improve infrastructure within the area.

Schuch said determining the boundaries is the first step in establishing an allocation area. The RDC would have to vote on a declaratory resolution to move the plan along to the Plan Commission, which would decide if it fits their plans. If so, the resolution would then move to the Porter County Commissioners.

Once the declaratory resolution is approved, the RDC will hold a public hearing for a confirmatory resolution for the creation of the proposed TIF area. A tax impact study would need to be prepared to show how the estimated growth in assessed value would affect the overlapping taxing units, Schuch said. If personal property is included the company name must be in the resolution.

A base assessed value will be determined once the TIF area is established. Afterwards, any increase to assessed value over the base assessed value is then able to be captured as tax revenue to be used within the area’s boundaries by the RDC. The captured AV would not go to any overlapping taxing units, Schuch said.

Benefits of a TIF allocation area include improving blighted areas, raising money to fund large-scale infrastructure and regeneration without taking from any other government levy, public improvements that can be undertaken without increasing the burden of property taxes on existing taxpayers, and property owners may see their home values rise.

Schuch said a common misconception residents have about TIF areas is that their property taxes will increase. Taxes are not increased by the TIF but rather are redistributed in other ways, he said. Residential properties will not be affected and the TIF area may lower costs because there will be better utilities and roads, he said.

The RDC can take up to 15 percent of the captured tax revenue and distribute it directly to schools or work training programs that promote economic development, Schuch said.

Frataccia said the County RDC has taken leadership in making sure that funds are given back to the school as it has made it a priority in the two TIF resolutions it has worked on.

“More RDCs are doing that more. We’re pretty proud we started it,” Frataccia.

As for the Liberty Twp. TIF area, the redevelopment funds would help initiatives like the Northwest Indiana Regional Plan Commission’s Greenways and Blueways plan, improve the quality of the Salt Creek Watershed, restore wetlands, and rehab deteriorating roads.

In the audience from Liberty Twp. were Tim Cole, Ed Gutt, and Phil and Sandy Johnson, who are hoping the TIF can improve wells that are no longer in good shape.

Cole had presented other ideas to the RDC earlier in March that included extending sewer and water lines from the hospital and to put sidewalks in connecting the Liberty schools.

Cole said some residents would like to see controlled growth in the Township which is mainly agricultural. He also wants to see momentum on the County’s U.S. 6 corridor plan.

RDC member Jim Polarek said he has spoken to Commissioner Jeff Good, R-Center, who does not feel “enthusiastically” about TIFs at this time. However, a new member will be joining the Board of Commissioners in January -- Jim Biggs -- who may give more support.

Frataccia said the RDC should talk to the Commissioner board before its January meeting when new County officials are in to see if there is any support.

“If they say nay, then that’s the way it is,” he said.

The RDC will meet next in December to take care of any end-of-the-year expenses.

No show on Aukiki Park

The meeting agenda included further discussion on a possible collaboration with the Porter County Parks Department on projects at Aukiki Park.

No discussion took place as no representative of the Parks Department showed up to the meeting.

Parks Superintendent Walter Lenckos in March approached the Commission on the idea that some redevelopment money could be allocated to put in acceleration and deceleration lanes at Aukiki Park’s entrance, located about one mile north of Kouts on Ind. 49. Lenckos said then the estimated cost was $110,000.

Although the RDC is not using TIFs currently, it does receive funding annually from the tax abatement agreement between the County and Porter Regional Hospital. The hospital agreed to pay back 10 percent of the taxes abated each year, capped at $100,000, for economic development.



Posted 11/18/2016






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