Chesterton Tribune

Burns Harbor a step closer to capturing more property taxes from ArcelorMittal plant

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Two proposals were received Tuesday from independent financial advisors seeking the job of helping Burns Harbor place the ArcelorMittal steel plant in a new taxing district.

Cender & Company LLC of Merrillville and H.J. Umbaugh & Associates of Plymouth both submitted qualifications and pricing.

Commission member Jim McGee said Umbaugh has worked for the town on several occassions for many years, but member Mike Perrine said thatís no reason to automatically hire them again.

The Burns Harbor Redevelopment Commission set a special 8 a.m. Aug. 24 meeting to consider the proposals.

The commissionís scope of services sought are related to general financial advice and creation of a new tax-increment financing or TIF district encompassing most if not all of the Mittal plant north of U.S. 12 as well as undetermined land along Indiana 149 south of the mill.

The town also is seeking help in determining the financial and practical feasibility of refinancing approximately $3.5 million in outstanding sewer bonds. The town wants to determine if issuing new bonds could help reduce property taxes and/or generate funds for future capital improvements or general operations.

Burns Harborís contracted engineering firm is finalizing a list of proposed capital improvements for the whole town that likely will be discussed at the Aug. 24 meeting. A plan to make specific improvements within the new TIF area is part of the required steps needed for its creation.

Resident Gayle Van Loon asked if a copy of the entire capital list would be available to the public. She was told yes, and at some point it will be posted on the town website at

The new TIF district is proposed to connect to an existing Burns Harbor TIF district comprised of a large, undeveloped tract of land Mittal owns west of the town hall complex. Large industrial parcels both east and west of Indiana 149 south of U.S. 20 also are in TIF zones.

One reason to establish TIF areas is that property taxes resulting from new development or improvements in those zones stay in the town and generally are not shared by other taxing jurisdictions like the Duneland School Corporation.

The Duneland School Boardís non-voting representative on the Redevelopment Commission, John Marshall, was absent Tuesday as was commission and Town Council member Louis Bain.

Redevelopment Commission attorney Charles Parkinson said Burns Harbor has until March 1 to finalize paperwork on the new TIF and have it become effective in the next tax cycle. A public hearing would be part of the adoption process.

Regarding the submissions from the financial consultants, Cender proposed not-to-exceed $12,000 to establish the new TIF district; Umbaugh proposed $10,000 without further authorization by the town. If the outstanding sewer bonds are refinanced, Cender quoted $25,000 to do that work and Umbaugh a likely range of $15,000 to $22,000.

Additional fees for other services, and hourly rates per professional services required, also were identified.


Posted 8/18/2010