Chesterton Tribune



Duneland Schools want more in TIF contributions from Burns Harbor

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The Duneland School Corporation has proposed an agreement with the Burns Harbor Redevelopment Commission (RDC) where the RDC would contribute more money to DSC than it has in the past.

The Burns Harbor RDC has been contributing approximately $50,000 of its Tax Increment Financing (TIF) revenue to the Duneland School Corporation every February and August for several years as part of an arrangement to lessen the impact of the Town’s TIF district on school funding.

The Board is in the process of negotiating a new agreement with DSC, since Clerk-treasurer Jane Jordan can’t calculate the payments the way she used to due to a State mandated change in the way school funds are organized. She used to calculate the contribution based on how much tax revenue DSC would not receive for its capital projects fund due to the Town’s TIF area.

The Board paid approximately $110,000 this year. The typical yearly contribution has been around $100,000 since the agreement began.

Town Attorney Clay Patton reported at last week’s RDC meeting that he reviewed a proposed new agreement from DSC. He said it’s good from a legal standpoint and hasn’t changed much. However, DSC has proposed that the RDC contribute 15 percent of its total TIF and tax abatement fee revenue per year instead of calculating different numbers for the two payments.

Revenue the RDC is awarded in grants would not be subject to the 15 percent, and DSC would commit to directing a certain amount (a flat $10,000) of the contribution to Yost Elementary each year, as the Board requested.

The Board members noted that 15 percent would represent a significant increase in the contributions. RDC member Toni Biancardi suggested a committee look over the agreement and report back next month. She and member Nick Loving volunteered.

The RDC receives its TIF and tax abatement fee revenue twice a year, in June and December, and the June disbursement tends to be larger, according to Jordan. The disbursement for June 2019 was $276,070.89 in tax abatement fees and $501,348.13 in TIF revenue for a combined $777,419.02. 15 percent of that number alone would be $116,612.85.


After member Brad Enslen evaluated all the wayfinding signs in Town and researched options for new ones, he reported that he thinks the RDC should hold off on new signage until they know more about what’s going to be where in the new Westport Development.

Enslen did suggest the Town work on fixing signs that point to things that no longer exist as a band-aid solution. He also suggested the Town put up a couple signs directing people to the South Shore Stations from northbound Ind. 149.

“Normally I wouldn’t point to something outside Burns Harbor,” Enslen said, “But we’re supposed to be a green community. We’re attracting people that may want to commute into the city, and we’re also trying to lure in corporations, and they want to know how easy it is to get into the city.”

Overlapping Taxing Units

The Board will invite representatives of overlapping taxing units--the Town, the County, the Airport, DSC, Westchester Public Library, and Westchester Township--to its December meeting. Jordan said State law requires the RDC to invite overlapping taxing units to one of its meetings, where it must share information about its budget for TIF funds and tax abatement fees, plans and projects the funds may go toward, and how each taxing unit is affected by the Town’s TIF area.



Posted 10/17/2019




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