The proposed 10-year extension of tax abatement on new improvements at
ArcelorMittal USA is officially off the Burns Harbor Town Council agenda.
For now, that is.
President Jim McGee announced Wednesday that council members can’t reach a
consensus regarding Mittal’s request; with three members not seeking
re-election in November, McGee suggested letting the next Town Council deal
with the matter.
Current members Louis Bain, who was absent, Toni Biancardi and Cliff Fleming
will be leaving office Jan. 1. McGee and councilman Mike Perrine are seeking
McGee said he spoke with Mittal representatives but with the size of the
global company and the number of people involved, a renegotiation now of the
agreement on the table appeared unlikely.
McGee speculated Mittal would entertain renewed discussion with the next
council; the steelmaker’s current tax abatement expires in 2013 but Mittal
had sought an extension until 2023.
McGee, who was the only council member to speak on the topic, also said one
of the biggest problems was that, due to a breakdown in communication, two
financial advisors were providing town officials with guidance making it
harder to determine a proper direction.
Because the council was unable to reach a consensus first, that led to a
planned workshop never taking place with other governmental units affected
by a new Mittal abatement, according to McGee.
Duneland School Board member Ralph Ayres was in the audience Wednesday but
did not comment. Duneland could have been substantially impacted if the
abatement were approved.
McGee said Mittal’s proposal is very important to Burns Harbor, especially
in light of the current economy and its future unpredictability. “I’m really
ashamed we couldn’t find a way to work through this.”
Had the town granted the abatement as proposed, which included a promise
Burns Harbor would not put the steel plant in a tax-increment financing or
TIF district during the agreement’s term, Mittal in return would pay off
almost $3 million in town sewer bonds as those payments come due freeing up
cash for other Burns Harbor projects and improvements.