In what it considers to be its first major action since it was established
midyear, the Porter County Redevelopment Commission (RDC) on Thursday put
together a committee that will look at possible geographical boundaries for
Tax Increment Financial (TIF) districts in the county’s unincorporated
Its first task will be to start identifying which areas around the U.S. 6
corridor would be useful as TIF districts due to the construction of Porter
Regional Hospital in Liberty Twp., which has been a direction the RDC has
considered since its beginning.
The committee will meet at its own chosen time to study maps and determine
where to place the boundaries of one or more TIF districts.
To join are Redevelopment Commission President Ric Frataccia, RDC members
Dave Burrus and John Shepherd, and Plan Commission Executive Director Robert
Once the areas have been drawn, the committee will take the documents back
to the RDC, which will then recommend, or not, the proposed district to the
County Council, which may suggest changes, and then to the Commissioners,
who make the final decision.
“Let’s focus on one project at a time,” said Frataccia. The next project
after the hospital will likely be the county’s municipal airport.
The committee will not be deciding pass-throughs as they will leave that up
to the other reviewing bodies.
Shepherd said the center of the TIF district in proximity to the hospital
could be between Meridian Road and Calumet Ave. on U.S. 6.
During the motion to form the committee, RDC member Jim Polarek, who is also
the 4th District representative on the County Council, asked that a created
TIF district not include any “footprint” of Porter Regional Hospital
He and other Council members, most notably President Dan Whitten, have said
that the hospital should not be included in a TIF due to several
remonstrations. Whitten had argued the idea of taking tax revenue from the
hospital would disrupt the county’s tax collection processes after
advantages were promised to the county in the discussions about allowing
Porter to build a new hospital. Many officials have questioned the use of
TIFs because they can take tax money away from school districts.
School’s general funds are supplied by a portion of the state sales tax but
their transportation funds, capital projects funds and bus replacement funds
are generated by property taxes.
Burrus said that from what he’s heard from the public, schools are the
“number one concern” people have about TIFs.
Shepherd explained that changes in the TIF laws have given counties freedom
to control how funds in a TIF district are collected including
“pass-throughs” for schools and other local units like libraries or township
fire stations. “Since then, it’s typical to exclude school corporations,” he
Shepherd said that captured assessments in a TIF district would not apply to
any existing structures, meaning that only new buildings that come about
after a district is set up are subject to the captured taxes. So, according
to Shepherd, the hospital would not be affected if it were to be placed
inside a TIF district. But everything developed around it would.
TIF dos and
A financial advisor to local governments, Shepherd facilitated a discussion
for his peers to become better familiar with how TIF districts operate.
A redevelopment commission can declare economic development areas to attract
new business. If the County Commissioners agree to a TIF district or
allocation area having met prior approval by the County Council and the Plan
Commission, a baseline assessed value is taken for property taxes. Any value
above the baseline would be collected by the RDC for development.
The only properties that TIF applied to are new commercial and industrial
properties, Shepherd said, and taxes would be taken only from the AV of
their buildings, not the AV of the land. TIF is not collected from
Homeowners inside the districts should not see any changes in their tax bill
due to “TIFing,” Shepherd said.
As it stands now in the legislature, all areas of a municipality are
eligible to be economic development areas but that could change under new
legislation, Shepherd said. The districts can be established for up to a
span of twenty-five years.
The proceeds collected by the RDC are to be used for capital improvements or
public works projects or to pay bonds and interest.
Shepherd said there are some misconceptions about TIF districts in Indiana
because of news reports from Illinois. “Both states have entirely different
rules,” he said. In Illinois, proceeds from a district can be directed to go
to another, but in Indiana all proceeds must stay completely within the
County Commissioner President John Evans, R-North, was on hand to alert the
commission that the County Jobs Cabinet this week has made their final
report available on ways to increase economic development.
A presentation on the plan will be scheduled at the RDC’s next meeting on
Jan. 17. The plan includes insights on developing properties around the
hospital and at the airport.
Evans said both boards will complement each other by working toward common
RDC members absent from Thursday’s meeting were Jeremy Rivas and non-voting
member Ralph Ayres.