A request by Indiana Flame Services for tax abatement for its
slab-conditioning and treatment operations at ArcelorMittal was scaled back
Wednesday because about $2 million a year in planned upgrades isn’t
considered a capitalized investment.
The Burns Harbor Town Council voted 5-0 giving preliminary approval to a
resolution identifying a total $155,000 of new expenditures tied to
Reasearch and Development over five years as qualifying for abatement. The
designation will save IFS about $4,500 in personal property taxes over nine
Although the abatement term is for five years, each year eligible
investments are made begins a new five-year cycle so it will take nine years
for all tax breaks to roll off, according to town financial advisor Dan
Botich of Cender & Company.
A required public hearing on the proposed abatement will take place at the
June 12 council meeting. Notice of the hearing will be given to about 11
overlapping taxing units affected by the abatement.
Botich said over the nine-year period the town’s combined cumulative funds
would not collect an estimated $79, and the Duneland School Corp.’s capital
projects fund an estimated $680. In all about $800 in taxes that likely
would have been collected by the affected taxing units won’t materialize.
Councilman Greg Miller said the $800 figure is a good investment compared to
the $240,000 in Indiana economic-development training grants IFS will
receive. Burns Harbor has to provide some local incentive for the grants to
The company’s upgrade plan includes six new employees; two have been hired
already. The four remaining hires each would have an average salary of about
$55,000 a year, said attorney Greg Babcock representing IFS.
Company director Eliot Weiner said IFS wants to leave the door open for tax
abatement on future multi-million investments by the firm. The company’s
current contracts with Mittal begin expiring in 2017 and extension
negotiations will take place.
Town attorney Bob Welsh, who read the six-page, single-spaced abatement
resolution aloud before adoption, said IFS will reimburse the town for legal
and other professional fees Burns Harbor incurs in the preparation and
adoption of the abatement.
Six grounds for terminating the abatement are included in the agreement.
Council member Mike Perrine asked why the Town Council and not the
Redevelopment Commission was hearing the abatement request when the town has
handled former abatements both ways. He suggested establishing a firm policy
for the future.
Welsh said there’s no legal requirement to involve the RDC and whether to do
so is at the council’s discretion.
Perrine said if the IFS request had gone to the town RDC, a Duneland School
Board member sits on that commission. Babcock said Duneland is one of the
several jurisdictions that will receive required notice of the June 12
Councilman Jeff Freeze said although the RDC is the best way to go, the
rules involving IFS’s state training grant changed mid-stream triggering the
The five Town Council members comprise the RDC membership in addition to the
In other business, Botich was asked to prepare a financial impact statement
on American Tower’s offer for a lump-sum signing fee to extend the town’s
current contract that leases land it owns to American for a cellular
communications tower. Council member Gene Weibl expressed concern that the
town might lock itself into a payment schedule that doesn’t reflect future
In other business:
* Clerk-treasurer Jane Jordan said last month the Indiana Utility
Regulatory Commission approved adding a new fee onto Burns Harbor residents’
water bills to pay for hydrant maintenance. The fee will be pro-rated on the
* The council approved donating $2,000 to the Chesterton/Duneland
Chamber of Commerce’s lakefront fireworks display at Indiana Dunes State
Park; Burns Harbor donated $2,200 last year. Also OK’d was $300, the same as
last year, for fireworks at the July 4 festival at Hawthorne Park in Porter.
* Town marshal Mike Heckman and his crew were thanked by both the Town
Council and Park Board member Marcus Rogala for removing a dirt pile at
Lakeland Park saving the town the cost to have it hauled away. Dick Davis
gave the park fill.
* Heckman reported town police handled 287 incidents in April
including three traffic accidents, and fire chief Bill Arney said
firefighters spent 14 hours 29 minutes at emergency scenes. As Sanitation
superintendent, Arney said vacuum trucks will be around town cleaning lift
stations next week.
* Council members voted unanimously to promote police officer Michael
Chandler to corporal after two years of service.
* The council adopted on final reading an ordinance giving residents
the right to ask for a hearing prior to water service being shut off for
unpaid sewer bills.
* Jordan was authorized to contract for mosquito fogging in town as
the need arises this summer. Up to four applications not to exceed $1,000
per application was approved. She said typically three applications are
needed depending on the weather.
* It was agreed Street Superintendent Randy Skalku would find a
solution to eliminate standing water on the south side of the town hall near
the police entrance following rains.
* Applications for town scholarships, either for students or adults
continuing their education, are available at the town hall; deadline to
submit is June 30.
* Resident Ray Poparad asked why the sides of some town roads are
eroding away. Some patching has been done, but Perrine said lack of funds is
a problem. President Jim McGee said it’s early in the road-repair season.
* Brush pick-up will continue on the first and third Mondays of the
month, weather permitting, said Skalku. He reminded residents May 23 is
spring large pick-up garbage day.