Planning commission’s exec board wants tax credit dollars to go back to local communities
BY CAROLE CARLSON firstname.lastname@example.org March 7, 2014 2:22PM
Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr., third from left, makes a point Friday at a Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission meeting. | Carole Carlson/Post-Tribune
Updated: April 9, 2014 6:11AM
PORTAGE — The Northwestern Regional Planning Commission’s executive board is asking that $4 million from a Lake County low-income tax credit loophole be returned to the gaming communities where the revenue was generated.
The executive board approved the resolution Friday and it will be forwarded to the General Assembly.
Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. is leading the fight for the money, which Senate Bill 367 would give to the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority to be used for the extension of the South Shore commuter rail line from Hammond to Dyer.
In an unexpected twist, the NIRPC board also voted to use the returned loophole money for mass transportation in Lake County, including buses. Lake County officials saw the demise of the Regional Bus Authority last year after they failed to come up with a tax to sustain it.
What impact the resolution from the region’s three-county planning organization will have on members of the General Assembly, which is entering its final week, is uncertain. Senate Bill 367, which had several amendments tacked onto it, is now in a joint chamber conference committee. The legislature adjourns March 14.
“I don’t know that it will change anybody’s opinion,” McDermott said after the meeting. “These guys are programmed downstate to do as they’re told.”
McDermott argued that Hammond already contributes $3.5 million annually to the RDA and in losing the loophole money, he said Hammond would give up another $600,000 in revenue to the RDA.
NIRPC Chairman and Hobart Mayor Brian Snedecor said sending the money back to the gaming communities is a matter of principle.
“All tax credit is paid by the state, which deducts the casino tax revenue that would have gone to Hammond, Gary and East Chicago,” he said.
Snedecor said NIRPC still supports the reauthorization of the RDA and the South Shore extension.
“We’re not trying to be obstacles,” he said.