Chesterton Tribune



Valpo asks County to consider revising plan for airport TIF; hearing Tuesday

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The Porter County Commissioners will hold a public hearing Tuesday to create a tax increment finance (TIF) zone around the Porter County Regional Airport.

The hearing will follow the Commissioners’ regular 1 p.m. meeting in Room 205 of the County Administration Building, 155 Indiana Avenue, Valparaiso.

This is the final step in enacting the TIF zone which the County Redevelopment Commission has worked on since shelving the proposed TIF around the Porter Regional Hospital on U.S. 6.

The Commissioners approved a TIF resolution in March after the Plan Commission agreed the proposal conformed to zoning rules.

The proposed zone includes nearly six square miles in Washington Twp. The zone includes commercial and industrial areas astride U.S. 30 from Ind. 2 to the north to the County Fairgrounds to the south. The eastern boundary is 450E and the western is the Valparaiso City limit.

The East Porter County School Corporation and other overlapping taxing units would receive 40 percent of the new tax revenue. Sixty percent would go to the TIF district to invest in new infrastructure, utilities and public improvements.

In May, Valparaiso City Redevelopment Director Patrick Lyp came before the RDC to suggest putting the TIF resolution aside and consider creating an Airport Development Zone. “It’s not an either or proposition. We are trying to convey there are other potential arguments for the County and City to work together,” said Lyp.

Lyp said that joining the resources of the County with that of the City, which has utility services available, along with the Northwest Indiana Redevelopment Authority would maximize the tools available for economic development in the area.

Lyp suggests the Commissioners table the TIF resolution until they have the chance to study the proposal further.

The ADZ would use collaboration to propel the “In Plane View” plan developed years ago by both the County and the City for future growth, Lyp said. “The whole point of that report was for the County and the City to oversee development. Pulling in different directions is not going to help,” he said, adding that the report “should not be on the shelf collecting dust.”

Because it cannot be created by just the County or the City, an ADZ would have to be created with special legislation from the Indiana General Assembly, Lyp said.

RDC president Ric Frataccia said he would also recommend the Commissioners table the matter and that looking at ways the County can partner with other municipalities should be a charge of the Redevelopment Commission.

RDC member and County Councilman Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd, said that although he agrees there could be room for collaboration with Valparaiso, he is puzzled by the fact this proposal came after the Commission had already sent the confirmatory resolution to the County Commissioners. “Where were these guys six months ago?” he said.

The County RDC has worked closely with officials from the EPCSC and they should not get left out, Rivas said. An ADZ would mean revenues would only be used for development at the airport and no other taxing unit could reap the benefits, he said.

Rivas said it looks like a “money grab” to him and hopes the work the RDC put in does not go to waste. He questions if the proposal would be successful in the statehouse since “they tend to frown upon special legislation,” he said.

Lyp said it would take longer to set up the ADZ than a TIF zone but says the wait will be worth it if done right.

Frataccia said he believes the proposal from Valparaiso came this late because they had undergone a transition of leadership. Lyp took the role of Valparaiso RDC director a few months ago. The work of the County RDC will not be in vain, Frataccia said, as it will serve as a template for future TIF proposals. Because of the work that was done in the Airport TIF, Frataccia said there has been a request to reconsider the hospital TIF from Liberty Twp. residents who saw the cooperation with schools for the airport.

Other Business

In other business Tuesday, the Commissioners will vote on two amendments relating to the enforcement of vehicle weight limits in county right-of-ways. One proposed amendment intends to fine vehicles with an individual axle weight of more than 20,000 lbs. and axle tandem groups of more than 34,000 lbs. without a special permit, not to exceed $5,000. Fines would be distributed 40 percent to the Sheriff’s Police and 60 percent to the Highway Department, another amendment proposes.

In department head requests, County Assessor Jon Snyder will ask the board to approve the most recent hourly fee and consulting agreement for the Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals.

Parks Superintendent Walter Lenckos asks approval for an ordinance establishing a fund to deposit proceeds from the Porter County Community Foundation.



Posted 6/2/2014