Little town of Beverly Shores leads Porter County per-capita debt

2013-04-27T19:30:00Z 2013-04-28T21:35:06Z Little town of Beverly Shores leads Porter County per-capita debtBob Kasarda bob.kasarda@nwi.com, (219) 548-4345 nwitimes.com

The small lakefront community of Beverly Shores has a fraction of the population of the city of Portage, yet is carrying three times the amount of debt per full-time resident, according to online municipal financial reports.

The town has debt totaling $5.2 million, or $8,423 per full-time resident.

Town Council President Geof Benson said the vast majority of the debt is the result of a nearly $6 million project nine years ago to bring piped-in lake water to the community.

The debt is being paid back through a real estate tax based on a percentage of the value of each of the nearly 500 homes in town, he said.

Benson pointed out the community's full-time population of 613, as listed in the 2010 Census, swells to 1,500 when part-time residents are figured in.

Portage, which has the largest number of full-time residents at 36,828, also has the largest overall debt load of $97.6 million or $2,650 per person, according to Indiana Gateway of Government Units, an online public access data base of local government finances.

The county's only other city, Valparaiso, has $75.5 million in debt, which amounts to $2,380 for each of its 31,730 residents.

Two of the county's towns — Dune Acres and Pines — report having no outstanding debt, according to Gateway.

Theodore Sommer, a financial adviser to Chesterton from the Indianapolis-based London Witte Group, said while municipalities have a debt cap of 2 percent of their assessed valuation, there are exceptions that make it difficult to determine the maximum debt allowed.

Utilities are a big-ticket item when it comes to municipal debt, Valparaiso Clerk-Treasurer Sharon Swihart said.

Valparaiso is particularly hard-hit because it not only provides the standard sanitary and stormsewer services, but also water, she said.

Planning is underway to borrow $5.25 million for the construction of a new public works campus at the city's wastewater treatment plant. City officials have said the debt would be paid off over 17 years and residents won't notice a change in their tax bills, because the new debt would replace a parks department bond that will be paid off this year.

Portage has $24 million in utility debt, compared to $40 million for other needs, Clerk-Treasurer Christopher Stidham said.

This debt includes a $16.5 million loan in 2010 for stormwater improvements and $16.7 million from 2006 for the AmeriPlex at the Port business park, he said.

The city's redevelopment commission agreed last week to initiate the process of borrowing $4 million for the construction of a new Street Department facility at the site of the current facility on Hamstrom Road, Stidham said. The cost of the project was reduced from $7 million.

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About Beverly Shores

Police Department

500 S. Broadway
Beverly Shores, Ind.
46301
(219) 879-8800

Fire Department

500 S. Broadway
Beverly Shores, Ind.
46301
(219) 879-9104

About Burns Harbor

Police Department

1240 N. Boo Road
Burns Harbor, Ind.
46304
(219) 787-9412

Fire Department

308 Navajo Trail
Burns Harbor, Ind.
46304
(219) 787-8591

About Chesterton

Police Department

726 Broadway
Chesterton, Ind.
46304
(219) 926-1136

Fire Department

702 Broadway
Chesterton, Ind.
46304
(219) 926-7162

About Dune Acres

Town Hall

One East Road
Dune Acres, Ind.
46304
(219) 787-1900

Fire Department

550 Beam Street
Porter, Ind.
46304
(219) 926-1226

About Porter

Town Hall

303 Franklin Street
Porter, Ind.
46304
(219) 926-2771

Police Department

50 Francis Street
Porter, Ind.
46304
(219) 926-7611

About Indiana Dunes

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
1100 N. Mineral Springs Road, Porter IN 46304
Visitor Information - 219-926-7561