Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

ArcelorMittal tax break deal on Burns Harbor agenda Wednesday

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Burns Harbor residents can attend three meetings Wednesday, one a 7 p.m. public hearing on extending current tax breaks for ArcelorMittal USA in return for Mittal paying off almost $3 million in outstanding town sewer bonds as they come due.

The monthly Town Council meeting for general business will convene at the town hall at 6 p.m. prior to the hearing.

At 8:30 p.m. or immediately following the 7 p.m. council meeting, whichever is later, the Burns Harbor Redevelopment Commission will meet. June 27 the commission was slated to meet for 20 minutes to hear the Mittal abatement request and instead the meeting lasted 90 minutes.

A key part of the tentative agreement is that Burns Harbor pledges for at least 10 years not to place the Mittal plant in a tax-increment financing or TIF allocation area where property taxes paid within that area would remain with the town instead of being shared by about nine other taxing units including Porter County.

July 20, 2010 the town Redevelopment Commission authorized its attorney to begin the legal steps necessary to designate much if not all of the Mittal steelmaking facility located within town limits north of U.S. 12 as a TIF district.

Officials from both Porter County government and the Duneland School Corporation are following the new abatement extension closely to assess what impact it would have on their respective ability to receive property taxes from the steelmaker.

Specifically proposed for abatement now is future installation of new Mittal manufacturing equipment, estimated to be $10 million to $20 million or more annually in the coming years. Taxes would be abated 100 percent the first year and reduced by 10 percent each succeeding year until full payment is due.

The current abatement program was granted in 2003 and would expire in 2013 but instead will be extended until 2023 if approved again.

During Wednesday’s meetings the council/commission, both comprised of the five Town Council members, will consider input from a financial consultant and an Indianapolis tax attorney hired to advise them on the Mittal request.

If Mittal pays the principal and interest on the sewer bonds, that will free up at least $500,000 a year or more for other town uses and Redevelopment Commission capital projects, but how the state Department of Local Government Finance will require the town to use or spend down about $1.3 million now held in reserve for bond payments is unknown.

June 27 when it originally was presented publicly, the Mittal request met with reservations --- including its accelerated pace --- from council/commission members Louis Bain, Toni Biancardi and Cliff Fleming; they eventually voted with Jim McGee and Mike Perrine to advance the matter for public hearing on the understanding that their prior approval can be reaffirmed, modified or rescinded Wednesday.

Duneland School Board member Ralph Ayres is a non-voting member of the Burns Harbor Redevelopment Commission.


Posted 7/11/2011




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