Stanrail Corp. wins property tax break from Gary council
By Michelle L. Quinn Post-Tribune correspondent March 19, 2013 10:22PM
Updated: April 21, 2013 6:28AM
GARY — Convertible steel floor and roof manufacturer Stanrail Corp. will get its tax abatement through a new taxing district.
The Common Council voted 7-1, with Councilwoman Kim Robinson, D-5, casting the dissenting vote and Councilwoman Carolyn Rogers, D-4, absent, to approve an economic redevelopment area on the city’s east side. Called the Industrial Business Park Central ERA, the area starts at 5th Avenue and Virginia Streets; travels along Virginian to Martin Luther King Drive, then to 15th Avenue; east along 15th Avenue to Michigan Street; then Michigan Street to the intersection of Dunes Highway and back to 5th Avenue.
The original map encompassed an area called the Midwest Center Allocation Area, said Economic Development Director J. Forest Hayes, and therefore had to be redrawn since the two can’t overlap. The map was redrawn Tuesday prior to the council meeting, he said.
Stanrail is asking for a personal property tax abatement, which would in turn allow it to expand and create 10 to 20 more jobs, Hayes said. But having another ERA in place can’t hurt the city, either.
“If we ever attract another developer in the area, it would be good to have an ERA in place,” Hayes said. “And Stanrail, before it was acquired by (Canadian company) Roll Form Group, was near bankruptcy. Now, it’s healthy and expanding, and it’s something we should be supporting.”
“The city continues to give away everything it has. When property taxes fund our base budget, that’s why we’re in the position we’re in financially,” Robinson said after the vote. “Stanrail has been here for years. What have they done to help the city prior?”
In other business, the council voted 8-0 a resolution supporting Lake County passing a 1 percent local-option income tax. Council President Kyle Allen said former Gov. Mitch Daniels painted the tax as a panacea but did it at Lake County’s expense.
“What makes us think we’re even going to get the money?” Allen said. “Everyone else passed it and we thumbed our nose at it, so the state said, ‘OK, I’m just going to wait until you starve to death.’ But it had no problem taking the $45 million to $50 million in gaming revenue from us, so I give it before the year’s up that we’ll have a county option tax and a wheel tax because the county can’t borrow or go to the bank.
“But when we go land-based, you know they’ll have their hand out for that money.”