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NIRPC office

The Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission's office in Portage. The commission is asking the state to increase the financial support it receives from Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties.

The Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission is hoping to increase the money it gets from the three counties it serves, petitioning the Indiana General Assembly to increase Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties' per capita contributions from 70 cents to 96 cents, and then to be indexed to inflation.

NIRPC's Executive Board approved a resolution Thursday requesting the legislature amend Indiana code to reflect the change. The per capita funding hasn't been changed since 1992.

Officials said the counties' contributions are leveraged as local matches for state and federal funding.

NIRPC is asking for the increase as soon as possible, though the state legislature is deep into its current session.

NIRPC's Executive Board approved several other resolutions Thursday regarding legislation before the General Assembly now. They include support for a beach erosion study along the Lake Michigan shore, support for an attempt to give municipalities an avenue for fining freight railroads whose trains block crossings for significant amounts of time, and support for a change in tax increment financing district rules that would allow expenditure of some TIF money for maintenance work.

The $1.6 million beach erosion study would be carried out by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. NIRPC's resolution backs legislation that would provide $1 million to help provide the local match for the study, and to begin work along the Ogden Dunes and Portage shoreline to fight the significant erosion there.

The train-crossing legislation would allow local governments to fine railroads if a railroad doesn't notify police departments of crossing blockages of more than 10 minutes. Local laws that allowed fines were overturned by the Indiana Supreme Court last year. This year's legislation attempts to bypass that court ruling by fining railroads for not notifying local law enforcement, rather than for the blockage itself.

The TIF legislation would allow for 15 percent of revenue from a TIF district to be used to pay for maintenance of that infrastructure. Currently TIF revenue is limited to paying for the infrastructure itself.

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Transportation Reporter

Andrew covers transportation, real estate, casinos and other topics for The Times business section. A Crown Point native, he joined The Times in 2014, and has more than 15 years experience as a reporter and editor at Region newspapers.