What would be
Porter County’s first unincorporated tax increment financing (TIF) district
was endorsed not quite unanimously on Wednesday by the County Plan
Planner and County
Council Member Robert Poparad, D-at large, was the lone objector, on the
grounds that any new TIF districts would impact taxpayers adversely by
pushing tax rates closer to the caps. “I am becoming very disillusioned of
TIF zones and what they do to the county,” he said.
Scott McClure opened the meeting by telling members that the County
Redevelopment Commission has officially adopted a declaratory resolution for
an economic development area around the Porter County Regional Airport.
While acknowledging that not all public officials are sold on TIF, McClure
said that the Plan Commission’s role is to decide whether the RDC’s proposal
conforms to the zoning principles for the entire property.
The TIF area would
be comprised of the commercial and industrial areas around the airport on
the northeast side of U.S. Highway 30 and Ind. 49 in Washington Township. It
would also contain the industrial areas around Washington Township School
and the Porter County Expo Center, RDC Member Bob Thompson said.
either reject the resolution--which the RDC could then modify--or they could
recommend it to the County Board of Commissioners for review.
nay on the motion. His argument: that as the amount of AV captured by
redevelopment accumulates, tax rates would have to increase to compensate
for the capture.
Poparad asked the
RDC’s hired financial advisor, Dan Botich of Cender and Company, whether the
economic plan he prepared included a tax analysis of the impact on all
taxing units. Botich said the plan looks at the taxing units in the
immediate area but for every $50 million of new AV captured by a TIF,
taxpayers in the county would see their rates increase minimally, by just a
obtained from the County Assessor’s Office, Poparad said that approximately
$660 million of the county’s total AV is tied up in TIF districts located in
Valparaiso, Portage, and Chesterton. And if it weren't for TIF zones,
Poparad contended, Porter County’s tax rate would be about 8 percent lower.
“The concept of
TIFs has been abused under the guise of economic development,” Poparad said.
“There are ways to do economic development other than TIFs but this always
seems to be the preferred method.”
Instead the airport
could bond for projects, Poparad suggested. The state allows local taxing
units to issue bonds in amounts not to exceed 2 percent of their total
assessed value. “The county has a way to make these improvements without
TIF-ing,” Poparad said.
Poparad added that
he had no objections to his colleagues’ approving the measure but advised
that, the quicker property owners hit the tax caps, the more pressure county
officials will feel to raise income taxes, which Poparad said he opposes.
TIFs only accelerate the state’s attempt to shift the burden of running
local government from property tax to income tax, Poparad maintained.
There are ways in
which redevelopment commissions can pass on new AV to other taxing units,
Botich said. The proposal for the Airport TIF includes a pass-through of 40
percent, as agreed to by representatives of the East Porter County School
Botich said RDCs
can also make grants to educational institutions, which means another 15
percent can be distributed. “There are ways to make these funds whole for
A TIF district can
be a marketing tool for the county, Botich said. When companies are looking
to build, they often ask a county or city about the availability of TIF
areas because it means they can develop more quickly.
Members Rick Burns
and Dick Maxey said they favored the plan for the chance of attracting new
manufacturing or high tech industries. “I like the redevelopment
possibilities,” Burns said. “I have no problem with this.”
Thompson and Botich who would be responsible for developing a marketing plan
for the area and how it would be paid for.
that the Porter County Economic Development Alliance has shown interest in
promoting development there. The PCEDA is comprised of officials from
Valparaiso, Portage, Kouts, Hebron, and the Duneland Chamber of Commerce
among others, Thompson said.
Kevin Breitzke expressed concern over the potential annexation of the land
by the City of Valparaiso and the issues such a move would raise. There have
been annexation rumors circulating, Thompson replied, but the RDC has heard
of no official plans.
Botich, for his
part, said that he’s under the impression that, if the city were to annex
the land, it would share in the vision of the County RDC’s development plan.
Peters voiced his support for a TIF district at the airport rather than at
Porter Regional Hospital, where the RDC initially proposed one. In
particular Peters said that he would like to see the airport developed with
a north-south runway and its east-west runway extended.
Voting in favor of
the motion was President and County Commissioner Nancy Adams, R-Center,
Maxey, Burns, Breitzke, Peters, Lyndsay Ploehn, and Luther Williams.
Member Ken Williams
was not in attendance.