Porter County could have its first tax increment finance (TIF) district in
place in four or five months from now as the Redevelopment Commission voted
3-0 on Thursday in favor of the declaratory resolution for the Porter County
Airport Economic Development Area.
Roughly 3,600 acres will make up the area located in Washington Twp.
southeast of the Valparaiso City corporate boundary with its southern border
running along Division Rd. encompassing the County Fairgrounds and then east
to primarily CR 450E and north to Washington Twp. School on Ind. 2.
Along with the Economic Development Plan developed with the assistance of
financial advisor Dan Botich of Cender and Company, the declaratory
resolution will advance to the Porter County Plan Commission at their Feb.
Legal advisor Gregg Sobkowski said if the county planners approve the
resolution, the County Commissioners will decide if the resolution is to
their liking. Then the RDC will hold a public hearing on a confirmatory
resolution and adopt it with any changes they need to make.
The County Commissioners have the last step of approving the confirmatory
resolution designating the TIF area, Sobkowski said.
The heart of the Commission’s discussion before voting revolved around the
impact the TIF would have on East Porter County Schools. EPCSC
Superintendent Rod Gardin and school board member Bob Martin have both been
active in the conversation advising how their school district already has a
TIF within it at the Porter Vale Shopping center on Ind. 2 where they are in
agreement with the Valparaiso Redevelopment Commission to receive 40 percent
of the assessed valuation captured by the TIF.
The County RDC’s resolution will include the same arrangement. Board member
and County Council member Jim Polarek, R-4th, proposed a 50/50 agreement but
Gardin said the RDC should make sure they are able to capture enough to get
their projects accomplished and would agree to the 60/40 deal.
“We consider that fair. Everybody will benefit from that,” Gardin said.
Any new property tax levied on real property after the TIF is established is
captured by the RDC.
In paragraph 9 of the resolution, the RDC agrees to having a grant program
available to schools where it can capture another 15 percent of the AV.
RDC’s can give grants to institutions that provide educational programs
designed to train individuals to become part of a competitive workforce in
the global economy.
RDC President Ric Frataccia said that the City of Valparaiso wrote to him
indicating an interest in working with the board on the venture. Valparaiso
has recently annexed parcels in the area of land owned by Von Tobel Corp.
and Pratt Industries along U.S. 30.
Frataccia said he would welcome the offer and also stressed that all matters
should be transparent.
“The goal is economic development so we can have jobs for our folks. How we
do that needs to be cooperative,” he said.
Martin told the board he appreciated their communication to EPCSC and what
they are doing could serve as a model for other RDCs in the state. “You guys
are a very adept ear,” he said.
School advisor Ralph Ayres, who is a non-voting member of the board, said he
thinks this would “set a precedent” as there are very few TIF districts that
have these types of arrangements in the state. The Vale Shopping Center is
thought to be the only TIF in the county which allocates AV to the school
district or other taxing units.
Voting in favor of the resolution was Polarek, Frataccia and member Dave
Burrus. Absent from the meeting was RDC member and County Council member
Sylvia Graham, D-At Large.
According to the resolution, development projects would center on public
utility connections with water and sanitary sewer. Corridor roadway
improvement projects will be planned for U.S. 30, Ind. 2 and 49, and County
Roads 100N, 200N, and 450E. Infrastructure and safety improvements for the
airport are also included in the project description.
The economic development plan’s objectives are to promote opportunities that
will bring gainful employment by attracting new businesses, benefiting
public safety and increasing property values in the county. Roughly $70
million of potential improvements are planned for the next ten years with
$30 million for upgrades specifically for the airport.
The TIF for Airport Economic Development Area is to last 25 years, according
to the resolution.
After the vote, Porter County Treasurer Mike Bucko and County Budget
Specialist Vicki Urbanik, in the audience, talked about the potential impact
that Governor Mike Pence’s break on business personal property tax could
have on the County. “This could have a big importance,” Urbanik said.
Bucko said that a year ago, he did some math after a legislator had made a
similar proposal and said it would create a $25 million total hit against
all the county governmental units combined. Urbanik said according to her
figures for 2013, the impact would be closer to $27 million or $28 million.
Ayres said another news story coming out this week was the announcement that
Boeing Corp. is eying Indiana and possibly the northwest region to build an
airline factory that will bring with it 9,000 or so “high-paying” jobs. If
Boeing would decide to build in Gary since it has the airport, it could
revitalize Gary and have a ripple effect on the surrounding communities.
“Wouldn’t that be something for Northwest Indiana?” Ayres said.