Impact of Porter County's first TIF called into question

2013-04-18T18:30:00Z 2014-09-02T13:49:03Z Impact of Porter County's first TIF called into questionBob Kasarda bob.kasarda@nwi.com, (219) 548-4345 nwitimes.com

VALPARAISO | The Porter County Redevelopment Commission was told Thursday it could reap $8.4 million during the next 20 years from the new hospital alone if a tax increment finance district is created along that portion of the U.S. 6 corridor.

Commission member Jim Polarek said the figure could actually be five times as much and joined fellow County Council member Sylvia Graham in opposing moving forward at this time with the TIF proposal.

"That's a lot of money to be taken out of the tax base," he said.

Polarek, who is uncomfortable placing that much money in the hands of the nonelected Redevelopment Commission members, asked that the figures be corrected before moving forward with the proposal.

He and Graham were trumped by the three other board members, who voted to proceed with the planning process and take it up again May 23.

At issue is an incomplete $37 million figure used for the assessment of the new Porter Regional Hospital at the northwest corner of Ind. 49 and U.S. 6. Polarek said he has been told and read in news stories that the actual value of the site is closer to $200 million, which means a TIF could take in more than $40 million during 20 years.

Once a TIF district is identified and approved, any new revenue from commercial development in that area is captured and used exclusively for improvements within the designated allocation area. Opponents argue the approach denies the new revenue to other taxing units.

The proposed TIF would cost the Duneland School Corp.'s capital project fund an estimated $1.62 million during 20 years, based on the $37 million hospital assessment, Dan Botich, executive of Cender & Co., told the Redevelopment Commission.

The board members made it clear they intend to compensate Duneland for its losses by adopting a new provision that allows for up to 15 percent of the TIF funding to be passed along to school districts for educational and work training programs. The commission is also allowed to invest in school projects.

Botich also told the commission that commercial and industrial taxpayers will be paying $18.07 more per $100 in assessed valuation by 2024 than if the TIF is not put in place. Residential tax money is not collected by a TIF.

The public will not have the opportunity to comment on this, the county's first TIF proposal, until after it is forwarded to the Plan Commission and county commissioners for approval and sent back to the Redevelopment Commission, Commission Attorney Gregg Sobkowski said.

The county commissioners have final say on the proposal.

The preliminary version of the TIF map takes in the U.S. 6 right of way east from Ind. 149 to Meridian Road, where it drops south to County Road 700 North and widens to include commercial properties farther east along U.S. 6 to Old Calumet Road. It continues north along Old Calumet Road to County Road 900 North and then returns west along 900 North to Meridian and then back south to U.S. 6.

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