Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Tim Cole asks new look at creating Liberty Township TIF district

Back To Front Page

By JEFF SCHULTZ

Last summer the Porter County Redevelopment Commission shelved the proposed TIF economic development area in Liberty Twp. to work on a new one around the County Regional Airport, but Thursday a township resident asked the Commission to reconsider.

Tim Cole of Liberty Twp. said he was originally opposed to having a TIF district at the hospital for fear that the Duneland School Corporation would be precluded from receiving new tax revenues.

“Too many questions were inherent in the proposal, brought out by the Valparaiso TIF in the Eastport area,” said Cole.

However, given the cooperative spirit the County RDC has shown with the East Porter County Schools regarding the Airport TIF area, Cole said he believes the same can be achieved with the TIF in Liberty Twp.

“We’ve regained confidence that a plan could be brought to the County that assured fair distribution of captured revenue,” said Cole. “We realize changes could be made that would be beneficial to us.”

In the declaratory resolution for the TIF of the airport approved by the RDC members last month, the Commission agreed for the school corporation to receive 40 percent of the new assessed values within the area. They also agreed to establish a grant program, where schools can also capture another 15 percent of AV if they teach programs that can be seen as promoting economic development.

The RDC also drew the boundaries at the wishes of EPCSC officials so that Washington Twp. School may benefit by building new facilities and infrastructure.

Cole, who said he came before the Commission on his own behalf and a few of his neighbors, said that a revision of the Liberty Twp. plan could address the local needs of the area and provide benefits to the U.S. 6 bypass and the Meridian Road corridors.

He also asked the RDC to allow the residents the chance to “oversee and control any TIF” that would be given to the township and the schools.

“We prefer a plan that benefits the unincorporated township and the Duneland Schools that assures local distribution of revenue providing opportunity for local funding of services that promotes good planned development,” Cole said.

The TIF plan would help manage growth, Cole said, and suggested it work in tandem with the proposed U.S. 6 corridor overlay study.

Cole mentioned the newly formed Woodville Foundation, which he is a member of, gives it support for a TIF plan.

When the Liberty Twp. economic development plan was proposed, the boundaries included Meridian Rd. and Calumet Ave., with CR 900 N to the north and CR 700 N to the south, including Porter Regional Hospital and Sunset Hill Farm. From Meridian Rd. to Ind. 149, the TIF would also follow along the U.S. 6 corridor.

RDC president E. Ric Frataccia said Cole’s request is a credit to the Commission members for their outreach to benefit all parties. Vice-president Dave Burrus welcomed the request and said he found Cole’s presentation “very positive and refreshing.”

Non-voting RDC member Ralph Ayres, who was recently elected president of the Duneland School Board, said that there is an understanding among his colleagues on the Commission that schools will be harmed as little as possible.

TIF timeline

As for the Airport TIF, the declaratory resolution and economic development plan will go in front of the County Plan Commission at its upcoming meeting on Feb. 12. It will be the sole item on the agenda, said RDC member and Plan Commission Executive Director Bob Thompson.

If the planners approve, the resolution will move on to the County Commissioners in March, who would also have to decide to accept or deny it. If any of those boards disapprove, it will be up to the RDC to amend the resolution and start the process again.

Legal advisor Gregg Sobkowski said once a declaratory resolution passes favorably with the County Commissioners, the RDC’s next step would be to put it into a confirmatory resolution which would require a public hearing with an advertised tax analysis. Sobkowski estimates the earliest that could take place would be in April.

Frataccia mentioned he is “proud” of what the board has set out to do with the declaratory resolution, working with East Porter County Schools. Frattacia is the superintendent of Portage Twp. Schools. “What we are doing here with this resolution is setting the stage for the future,” he said.

Reorganization

The first part of the meeting included an extended welcome to new RDC members Bob Thompson and County Councilman Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd.

Thompson is executive director of the County Plan Commission office and was appointed by County Commissioner President John Evans, R-North, to be his delegate. Likewise, Rivas was picked by County Council President Dan Whitten, D-At Large, to represent him.

Returning members are Frataccia, Burrus and County Council member Jim Polarek, R-4th. Polarek was absent from the meeting Thursday.

Frataccia was elected by his peers to lead as president again this year with Burrus returning as vice-president and Polarek as secretary.

 

 

Posted 1/24/2014