The Burns Harbor
Town Council took three significant actions at Wednesday’s monthly meeting:
unanimously to increase from one-half cent to 5 cents the property tax rate
for the cumulative capital development fund, a seven-fold increase.
• Tabled planned
discussion regarding a proposed 10-year tax abatement extension for
ArcelorMittal USA until the May 9 meeting.
• Disbanded the
town’s Economic Development Commission with council member Mike Perrine
Miller said the CCDF rate increase translates to an additional tax burden of
about $30 per year for a home valued at $100,000 to $150,000 and higher for
a more expensive home. Mittal, the town’s largest taxpayer, will pay most of
If state tax
officials approve the higher rate, the CCDF fund is anticipated to generate
about $250,000 annually beginning with the 2013 tax bills through 2015. The
half-cent rate raises $29,805.
As of Feburary,
both Chesterton and Porter each had a CCDF rate of 4 cents or more,
respectively. The maximum allowable rate is 5 cents.
During a public
hearing last night, Burns Harbor resident Gayle Van Loon asked why the
council wanted the 5-cent rate and what members will do with the additional
money. Councilman Gene Weibl said the town has struggled financially since
the 2001 Bethlehem bankruptcy and the additional revenue will be used for
better services, road paving and new sidewalks.
Miller said his
intent is to start implementing elements of the town’s new comprehensive
plan, which calls for a pedestrian-friendly community, compatible business
development and construction of a dedicated downtown.
asked to comment after the public hearing was closed, asking would the new
CCDF revenue be used for operating expenses?
that’s not the plan, but Perrine said if CCDF money is spent on projects
that otherwise would be paid for with general funds, the unspent money there
is freed up for operating costs.
Mittal tax abatement, which has been pending for eight months, council
president Jim McGee announced as the meeting began that he was changing the
agenda to table the request until May 9. After the meeting McGee said he
“just moved it to May” for no specific reason.
Board member Ralph Ayres was present Wednesday for the Mittal discussion but
left the meeting when it was tabled; Dan Botich of town financial advisor
Cender & Company also was in attendance.
request for abatement initially was made last year, Duneland School Corp.
opposed it on the grounds the schools would lose substantial revenue.
Development Commission discussion arose over an April 5 letter from the
Porter County Council confirming it agreed to keep Bob Poparad as its 2012
appointment to the Burns Harbor EDC. Poparad was an EDC member and a former
member of both the county and town councils.
Council previously chose Poparad, but the Town Council subsequently
indicated it wanted to name Brad Enslen. Although state law requires the
County Council to recommend one appointment, the final selection is up to
McGee said he
can’t remember when the EDC last met; Perrine said there is no reluctance to
meet. When asked what it does, Botich said the EDC has the ability to
arrange the issuance of lower-interest revenue bonds for private activity to
assist existing or new businesses.
Miller asked if
the town wants to dissolve the EDC and re-establish it later if needed;
Welsh said there’s no legal requirement to keep it. Perrine asked why anyone
would want to disband the board.
audience, Poparad said he’d resign if the objection is to his appointment.
McGee said, “Everybody’s taken a lot of things wrong,” and Poparad doesn’t
know it’s all about him. Vote to disband the EDC was 4-1 with Perrine
Naming a new
trustee for the town’s own sewer bonds was delayed giving Welsh time to
research UMB Bank’s request to delegate US Bank as the paying agent. Welsh
said the proposed document UMB wants the town to approve is “a very skimpy
little agreement that doesn’t tell us much,” and the town needs to protect
the bond holders.
Redevelopment Commission must approve any trustee change so an RDC meeting
was set for May 9 at 6:30 p.m. although a special meeting may be called
began with councilman Jeff Freeze moving to name McGee as president for the
remainder of 2012. In January he was elected to serve for “the first
quarter” of 2012. Freeze was reaffirmed as council vice-president. Votes on
both motions were 5-0.