The Burns Harbor
Redevelopment Commission met the July 1 deadline to expand its existing TIF
Meeting Monday, the
RDC voted 5-0 to add 83 acres in the Traditions apartment complex and in the
designated future downtown district southeast of the apartments.
The RDC formally
began the process at a special meeting June 11, followed by necessary
approvals from the Advisory Plan Commission and Town Council at special June
16 meetings of their own.
Because the TIF
expansion includes a commitment to give Duneland School Corp. approximately
$135,000 a year for 10 years, RDC member Cliff Fleming was designated to
continue negotiations with Dunelandís administration on a draft agreement
outlining how, when and for what purposes the money would be released.
member Ralph Ayres, Duneland School Board president, hailed the proposal as
a landmark decision to replace the $135,000 a year the school system would
have received when new development occurs in Burns Harbor, but wonít because
of the TIF expansion.
RDC president Greg
Miller said the town and the school system need to think out of the box to
improve amenities and services using groundbreaking partnerships for
projects in the future.
Itís intended that
the RDC money, possibly disbursed in the form of a grant, be used to benefit
Burns Harbor students.
Later in the
meeting, town clerk-treasurer Jane Jordan explained that Porter County last
year failed to deduct from Burns Harborís TIF income money Duneland schools
should have received due to a successful voter referendum enabling the
school to collect more in property taxes.
To resolve the
matter, $41,000 was deducted from Burns Harborís TIF distribution in June
and another $25,000 will be deducted in December, said Jordan, and the
correct formula should be in place for 2015.
A public hearing on
TIF expansion was conducted during the meeting and no one commented other
than the Chesterton Tribune reporter, who asked when did the RDC
authorize financial consultant Cender & Company to prepare the actual TIF-expansion
documents that were acted upon June 11.
The May 12 minutes
confirm that the previous motion passed was to commission a Cender study to
assess the value of adding Traditions to the TIF, short of agreement it
should be expanded.
Last night, RDC
member Gene Weibl said, ďIt was my impression it was something we intended
to do if the numbers worked.Ē Miller said the difference sounds as if it
were a semantics issue, but in the future the commissionís intent could be
made clearer. Member Brad Enslen reminded a tight time frame was involved.
RDC attorney Chuck
Parkinson told members, ďWhatever you intended to do in May, it was ratified
by action in June.Ē
In other business,
following its approval of a final draft, the RDC authorized consultant
McGuireWoods to release a request for qualifications or RFQ seeking a second
consultant to assess what the townís assets are to grow Burns Harbor through
consultantís final product would enable the town to reach out to developers
through marketing efforts, explaining what benefits Burns Harbor has.
being paid not to exceed $15,000 to prepare an appealing RFQ so Burns
Harborís solicitation gets noticed and attracts serious members of the
Fleming said he
hopes the second consultant can be hired in late fall.
He added that Burns
Harbor wants to be a full-service community and itís silly for it to spend
millions of dollars on the town, later to find out the market doesnít want
to come there under those circumstances. ďIn the private sector itís not
about do good or feel good; itís about the bottom line.Ē
Also Monday, the
RDC adopted a resolution outlining how a member can request the services of
a consultant, after consultation with the RDC president, if the associated
fee doesnít exceed $5,000 and the expense is ratified by the full commission
at the next meeting. It was noted the intent is not to circumvent public
discussion, however, projects could arise that need immediate attention.
From the audience
Town Council president Jim McGee thanked the commission and staff for its
hard work, and he expressed hope that other taxing units whose TIF districts
divert money from Duneland Schools would follow Burns Harborís lead to
The RDCís next
meeting will be July 24 at 7 p.m.