Chesterton Tribune



Burns Harbor RDC getting a lesson in debt limits and bonding power

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The Burns Harbor Redevelopment Commission wants to know if it can balance its ability to bond for projects while leaving some bonding power to the town in case it is ever needed.

RDC President Marcus Rogala said he received information from the Town’s financial advisor Umbaugh & Associates just hours before Wednesday’s Commission meeting. Matt Eckerle, principal with Umbaugh, said the Town’s bonding limit is $3.7 million on a term of 15 years.

Rogala brought up the idea of bonding at the RDC’s June meeting to move forward with constructing three important components of the new downtown area -- a crosswalk on Ind. 149, the plaza development of the four-acre site at Westport Rd. and Haglund Rd. and a walkway on Haglund that would connect with other parts of town.

Tina Rongers, a consultant for the RDC, said not all the $3.7 million would be available because of soft costs. The actual figure would be closer to $3 million, she said.

Eckerle said the bond would be payable from the revenue collected annually from the tax increment finance district and would carry a property tax backup to help with the marketing of the bonds.

RDC members Erik Hull and Toni Biancardi said they would like to know what the impact would be on other projects if the Commission bonds for the three projects Rogala mentioned. Hull said there is some money needed for the Town’s portion of the Marquette Greenway Trail.

“What I want to know is how will this impact the Town’s ability to bond,” Hull said.

Rogala said he figures the Commission wouldn’t have to bond for the full $3.7 million. Initial estimates from Global Engineering indicate that roughly $2 million will be needed for the downtown development. The crosswalk and the plaza would add up to about $1.5 million and the walkway on Haglund may be about $500,000.

Hull and Biancardi said what they would like to see before moving forward are more comprehensive reports from Global Engineering telling what the specific costs would be for each item and then have Umbaugh & Associates determine the impacts in bonding scenarios.

“I would like to see it all laid out,” said Bianacardi.

“I agree. It’s a big step,” said Hull.

Rogala said he will ask representatives from Global to be at next month’s meeting to present the information.

Rongers said that with a debt limit, she believes there would be an impact to fund other projects if the decision is to bond. “Whatever you fund up front you are sacrificing future opportunities so there is a little bit of a balancing act,” she said.

Rongers said there are grant opportunities mentioned by Global Engineering that could be pursued to help fund the projects, allowing less reliance on a bond.

Food Truck Square

In other business, Rogala reported the Food Truck Square is off to a good start this season. Many elected officials, business representatives and residents attended the Better Burns Harbor Night on Wednesday, June 28 where the RDC discussed their vision for the future.

With revenue coming in from the vendors, the RDC gave Rogala consensus to purchase equipment for speakers at the square to play music. Rogala said he also would like to get a wooden fence structure for the enclosed area for events when there is alcohol sold.

School funds

The RDC received correspondence from the Duneland School Corporation reporting on what it has done with the TIF funds its received through the Burns Harbor RDC.

Former DSC Superintendent Dave Pruis in a letter said the Corporation has provided technical education and training programs and expanded course offerings in the advancement of career pathways to prepare students for future work.

Two programs were implemented in the 2016-2017 school year. Project Lead the Way which consists of biomedical sciences and concepts with engineering principles in the curriculum. The second program is The Leader in Me, designed to empower students with skills for success in today’s economy.

STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) activities have been expanded, particularly for students in grades 3 and 4, Pruis reported.

“That’s where our money is going to,” Rogala said.

Marquette Greenway

Rongers said SEH Inc. is continuing its preliminary design and environmental due diligence on the Marquette Greenway. There is initial coordination with Town of Porter and City of Portage to create interlocal agreements to develop the segments of the Trail.

A quarterly meeting will take place at the Northwest Indiana Regional Plan Commission building on July 25.

Also, the RDC voted 4-0 in favor of paying $125 in yearly dues to the Redevelopment Association of Indiana.


Posted 7/14/2017





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