Port to Portage: 'Tax revenues more than sufficient'

2013-07-03T00:00:00Z Port to Portage: 'Tax revenues more than sufficient'Joyce Russell joyce.russell@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2222 nwitimes.com

PORTAGE | The Ports of Indiana brought its case to Portage city officials Tuesday night.

During a lengthy presentation, Ports of Indiana CEO Rich Cooper and financial consultant Deen Rogers presented information on why they believe the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor contributes "tax revenues more than sufficient to cover city services."

They also outlined the benefits of the port to the city, including some 6,200 jobs and $4.3 billion in economic activity generated by the port.

The presentation followed months of meetings between Mayor James Snyder, other city officials, state legislators and ports officials on whether the ports should be contributing more funding to the city.

The port is on state property and no property taxes are paid on the land.

However, Rogers said, an analysis indicates that companies at the port have contributed an average of nearly $2.4 million per year in property taxes to the city.

Cooper also disputed some of the figures used by Snyder, particularly the number of times police and firefighters have responded to the port. While the city contends police and fire have responded some 300 times over four years, Cooper said they analyzed city reports and police respond an average of 16 times per year and fire respond an average of 17 per year.

The presentation drew ire from some city officials.

Police Chief Troy Williams disputed a portion of the presentation showing overall police incidents in Portage, saying the figures were not accurate and were not maintained by his department.

Cooper answered the information came from the city's website.

Snyder stopped Cooper's presentation at one point disputing remarks shown in quotation marks as not being accurate or never stated by himself or other officials.

"We have worked hard to make sure this wasn't contentious," said Snyder. "This is a lot of new information for us."

Snyder said the information presented by the port officials would have to be reviewed. He added that with continued financial pressure on the city, officials need additional revenue and that because of the operations at the port, the Fire Department needs specialized training the city can't afford.

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