Divided C.P. council pledges 10% of tax proceeds to South Shore

2014-04-16T21:30:00Z 2014-04-16T22:39:07Z Divided C.P. council pledges 10% of tax proceeds to South ShoreSusan Erler susan.erler@nwi.com, (219) 662-5336 nwitimes.com

CROWN POINT | Mayor David Uran cast the deciding vote Wednesday in favor of a 10 percent contribution to the proposed South Shore Line extension.

The City Council had been tied 3-3 on the question, with some members holding out for lesser amounts, before Uran broke the tie with his favorable vote.

The contribution amounts to 10 percent of the city's share of the new Lake County economic development income tax, or about $68,000, in 2014.

The 10 percent fell below the 34 percent U.S. Rep. Pete Visclsoky, D-Merrillville, has requested of Lake County cities and towns for the $571 million project, but it was more than three City Council members wanted to commit.

Councilwoman Laura Sauerman, R-4th, wanted the city's contribution limited to no more than 5 percent. Constituents she'd heard from hadn't favored a city contribution to the project to extend the rail line to Dyer, Sauerman said.

Councilman Bob Clemons, D-2nd, said he didn't want to go against Uran on the matter but couldn't support the 30-year commitment proposed.

"I cannot honestly live with myself," Clemons said. "Thirty years from now, we're going to hang this on somebody's back. I can't do it."

Councilwoman Carol Drasga, R-5th, wanted the contribution limited to no more than $20,000.

Supporters of the 10 percent contribution included Councilmen Mark Schweitzer, R-at large, Andrew Kyres, D-3rd, and Chad Jeffries, D-1st.

Jeffries said constituents he'd heard from were in support of the city contributing.

"I think it's a great idea," Jeffries said of the extention.

Kyres said city officials needed to be "visionary" in their decision making.

Councilman Bill Feder, D-at large, at first abstained from voting. After the tied vote was cast, Feder decided to vote against the contribution. City Attorney David Nicholls said the motion would have to be redone in order for Feder to vote after initially abstaining. Uran then cast the tie-breaking vote.

Uran said the rail extension will provide an opportunity for future economic development for the whole region and prove beneficial to Crown Point as a result.

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