PORTAGE | When a man was injured in an accident at Frick Services at the Port of Indiana last week, the Portage Fire Department responded.
During the last three years, the Fire Department has responded to 64 calls at the port, according to city records. The Police Department has answered about 300 calls in the industrial area.
However, the port, because it is state-owned property, is exempt from paying property taxes — the funding the city uses to pay for its Fire and Police departments.
Mayor James Snyder is hoping to change that. He spent much of Wednesday and Thursday, and a good part of his first year in office, talking to legislators and others about entering into an agreement with the Indiana Port Commission or passing state legislation that would require the port to pay for the services the city provides.
House Bill 1507, which was introduced last month by state Rep. Rick Niemeyer, R-Lowell, would require a payment in lieu of taxes by the port to the city. The legislation, which is being co-authored by state Rep. Chuck Moseley, D-Portage, and Mara Candelaria Reardon, D-Munster, was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee on Jan. 22.
Under the proposed legislation, the port would pay a maximum payment in lieu of taxes in the amount of the property taxes that would be paid to the city if the property were not exempt from taxation.
Snyder, who will hold a news conference at 9 a.m. Saturday at City Hall regarding the issue, said Thursday that while he believes the bill needs to be heard at committee so that the city can present its argument, he also believes the issue can be settled without legislation.
"We hope to not have to go through the Legislature. We hope to get it worked out," he said, adding he is meeting with the Indiana Port Commission on Feb. 21.
"We want to provide the very best public safety to the ports," Snyder said.
Because of the industry located there, that requires specialized training for city departments, he said.
"We believe it is a simple request," he said.