Chesterton Tribune



Porter RDC to School Board: We'll get back to you on that

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Duneland School Board member John Marshall asked the Porter Redevelopment Commission to open negotiations over a possible annual payment to the schools to replace revenue it doesnít collect because of Porterís TIF district.

He also said a similar revenue-sharing request will be made of the Chesterton Redevelopment Commission.

Tuesday, Marshall specifically asked the Porter RDC to designate a member to participate in talks with a School Board representative and Duneland administrators.

After a long pause RDC president Jeannine Virtue said members would determine who has the ability to meet with school officials. ďWeíll see what we can do about that,Ē she told Marshall.

He was attending his first meeting as a non-voting RDC member replacing Ron Stone as the School Boardís representative.

Marshall said Porter could use Dunelandís recent agreement with the Burns Harbor RDC as a framework for discussion. Burns Harbor earlier this year agreed to enter into a contract with Duneland giving the schools up to $135,000 a year for 10 years in return for providing educational services to the town.

According to Marshall, Dunelandís capital projects fund canít collect $148,863 a year it otherwise would because Porterís RDC captures $44,583,276 in assessed valuation for its exclusive use that isnít available to Duneland.

Marshall said state law allows an RDC to spend up to 15 percent of the tax proceeds it receives on an annual basis for educational/training programs. He noted the cities of Portage and Valparaiso both allocate money annually to their respective school districts.

Marshall said he asked to be on the Porter RDC because he previously lived in town and ďPorterís always been a special place to me.Ē He is a non-voting RDC member and canít make a motion, he explained, but the School Board asked Marshall to bring the TIF-sharing allocation to the RDCís atttention.

In other business, the commission unanimously approved a contract not to exceed $5,500 with Haas & Associates to design and oversee an extension of the Franklin Street alley east of Hageman Avenue.

Construction earlier this year of the Orchard Pedestrian Way hike/bike trail left some Franklin properties without access to their homes other than by the trail itself. A portion of the alley was built east of Hageman but another property owner has requested it be extended farther to his home.

Warren Thiede of Haas said it will take about six to eight weeks to receive proposals from contractors. No commitment was made the work would be done at that time.

Also Tuesday, Virtue defended the RDCís previous decision to give $400,000 to Porter County to help pave the Calumet Trail north of U.S. 12. She said because that hike/bike trail is being upgraded, Porter decided to eliminate its planned trail along the Munson Ditch right-of-way at a $1 million savings.

Munson trail work would have been financed with a Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority grant to Porter earmarked for trails. ďWe couldnít use it to pave streets or anything other than trails,Ē said Virtue.

The RDA has approved the money transfer.

Porter director of development Mike Barry said in 2010 Porter gave Porter County $125,000 to help fund a portion of a trail from the county Visitor Center through Indiana 49 and U.S. 20.

At the conclusion of the discussion the RDC voted 5-0 to enter into a memorandum of understanding with Porter County transferring the $400,000

In a related matter Barry said drawings are 90 percent complete for the missing section of the Orchard Pedestrian Way hike/bike trail from the Orchard Apartments to over Interstate 94; the RDC is awaiting verification that the RDA will pay for the work.

He also noted a leg of the Dunes Kankakee Trail between U.S. 12 and Porter Countyís portion is out to bid. RDA money will be used.


Posted 7/23/2014