Chesterton Tribune



Burns Harbor TIF district addition to share taxes with schools

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The Burns Harbor Redevelopment Commission would become the first in Porter County to allow the Duneland School Corporation to share future tax revenue from the town's planned expansion of its TIF district.

Duneland School Board president Ralph Ayres, a non-voting Burns Harbor RDC member, hailed the proposal as breaking new ground. “I hope other communities follow suit.”

Ayres said RDCs in Burns Harbor, Porter, Chesterton and a small portion of Portage have more than $146 million in assessed valuation tied up for their own use resulting in a combined $500,000 shortfall per year in money that otherwise would have gone to Duneland's capital projects fund.

Burns Harbor is proposing to give the schools $135,000 a year for 10 years as outlined in an amended RDC economic development plan introduced Wednesday. The payment could take the form of a grant program.

Commented RDC president Greg Miller, “It's important to the economic development of our area that the schools stay healthy.”

Financial consultant Dan Botich of Cender & Company said the Merrillville RDC is in the process of negotiating a similar agreement with Merrillville Schools.

The TIF expansion would add to the existing TIF district a total 83 acres in the Traditions apartment complex and in the designated future downtown district on U.S. 20.

When Traditions is completed, Botich said it alone would add a potential new assessed-valuation capture of $3.5 million. Burns Harbor's TIF district currently has $33 million in AV now and generates about $850,000 a year in RDC revenue.

In addition to expanding the TIF district boundaries, Botich said the town's existing economic development plan for that designated area is being updated and amended to bring the 2000 plan revised in 2008 into compliance with new state requirements as of July 1.

That's also the deadline for Burns Harbor to complete expansion of its TIF area so property taxes based on new AV from future development there can be reserved for RDC use beginning in 2015.

The RDC met in special session last night and voted 4-0 with member Cliff Fleming absent to approve forwarding to the Advisory Plan Commission for its review a resolution incorporating adoption of both the updated economic development plan and the TIF expansion.

The Plan Commission was scheduled to convene after the RDC Wednesday but notice for that special meeting wasn't posted so it was canceled and reset for 6 p.m. Monday. The Town Council will follow with a special meeting Monday at 6:30 p.m. to receive the resolution. A future RDC public hearing will be set.

During discussion prior to the RDC vote member Jeff Freeze asked why Kenwall property in the southwest corner of Indiana 149 and Old Porter Road south of the railroad, as well as land on the south side of Tech Drive in Tech Business Center, is not part of the TIF district. Botich said he did not know.

Freeze also asked clarified that no adjacent low-density residential property would be impacted by adding Tradition's land for multi-unit apartments to the TIF.



Posted 6/16/2014




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