VALPARAISO | It appears county officials may be having second thoughts about funding economic development improvements in the area of the new hospital by capturing revenue from new commercial development along that stretch of U.S. 6.
Porter County Councilwoman Sylvia Graham, D-at large, told her fellow members on the Porter County Redevelopment Commission on Thursday morning it is her understanding the proposed tax increment financing is being reconsidered.
She urged fellow commission member and Portage Township School Superintendent E. Ric Frataccia to contact Porter County Commissioner President John Evans, R-North, for clarification before the Redevelopment Commission proceeds much further toward the creation of a TIF district.
"Make certain we are still on the correct path," she said.
Graham and fellow commission and council member Jim Polarek, R-4th, said the focus may be shifting toward the creation of a TIF district in the area of the county airport in Washington Township.
Evans, who was not at Thursday's Redevelopment Commission meeting, did not return a telephone call afterward for comment.
The proposed TIF district in the area of the new hospital at U.S. 6 and Ind. 49 has generated debate. Opponents argue the idea of capturing new revenue to be used within the designated allocation area alone denies revenue to other taxing units.
The Redevelopment Commission was told during its last meeting in April the proposed TIF could reap $8.4 million during the next 20 years from the new hospital alone. When Polarek said the figure was underestimated, a consultant updated the amount to $26 million.
Polarek, who believes the estimate still could be as much as twice this amount, has said he is uncomfortable placing that much money in the hands of the non-elected Redevelopment Commission members.
The TIF proposal also was dealt a blow in April when a local attorney specializing in real estate and land use voiced his opinion to the County Council that TIF districts do not mix well with tax abatements.
At least some of the council members are opposed to the proposed TIF, in part because it will include the new hospital, which was granted a 10-year tax abatement by the council in 2009. Their concern is that a TIF will clash with the tax breaks provided by abatements.