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Valpo Chamber announces issues they want addressed at Statehouse

Updated: January 21, 2013 3:54PM



VALPARAISO — The Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce announced four issues it will support and advocate for in the 2013 Indiana General Assembly.

The issues, announced Wednesday, are: Elimination of business personal property tax, the Illiana Expressway going farther east than Interstate 65, continued state funding for the Regional Development Authority and upgrading U.S. 30 from Valparaiso to Fort Wayne.

The chamber decided on these after discussion on what local businesses value and are affected by.

“These we see as realistic, based on goals that can be met,” Chamber Board Chairman Jon Schmaltz said. “To say these are an important four is an understatement.”

Schmaltz called the business personal property tax “a penalty” that keeps Indiana from competing with neighboring states that don’t have it or have different tax structures, such as Illinois. The tax is on non-real estate property, such as equipment and machines.

“Growing companies, especially in Northwest Indiana, may require heavy investment in equipment,” Schmaltz said.

The legislature recently relaxed business personal property tax on computer equipment that needs frequent replacing, such as servers and technology center electronics.

The chamber supports the Illiana Expressway to alleviate traffic congestion on Interstate 80/94 by taking traffic south.

Schmaltz said there’s a predicted 23 percent increase in traffic in 15 years, and Illiana traffic going to I-65 will likely use U.S. 30 and I-80, I-94 and I-90 to travel east, increasing congestion.

The chamber says people’s emotional ties to property and the area’s rural atmosphere can be balanced with economic development.

“It’s a little empty to say we support economic growth without providing the infrastructure,” Schmaltz said.

The RDA is important because it creates economic development and doubles investments using federal grants, putting $30 million in projects in Porter County, including recreational areas, he said.

The RDA funding is about $10 million a year from toll road lease money until 2015.

The chamber compared improvements to U.S. 30 to the modernization of U.S. 31 in Hamilton County. Deterioration of U.S. 30 impedes local traffic and delivery of goods.

The chamber plans to talk with and send letters to the Northwest Indiana legislative delegation, including local legislators Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, and Rep Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, Schmaltz said.

The chamber asked that people and local businesses help by staying on top of the issues and news, communicating with legislators and being engaged with the chamber.



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