Portage OKs revenue bond to help fuel Fronius project
By John Robbins Post-Tribune correspondent February 5, 2013 8:36PM
Updated: March 7, 2013 6:39AM
The Portage Common Council approved a $5 million economic development revenue bond Tuesday to help Fronius Corp. purchase property and equipment for its U.S. headquarters at the AmeriPlex facility.
The 20-year bond will carry a 5 percent interest rate.
The Portage Economic Development Commission met earlier Tuesday to review the bond issuance and recommended the council authorize the bond. The city’s Redevelopment Commission previously pledged to repay the bond using revenue from the Fronius tax increment financing district.
Fronius, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of solar inverters, is completing a 400,000-square-foot facility that will employ up to 400 full-time jobs with an annual payroll of $14 million, according to council attorney Greg Sobkowski.
Thirty-five city employees will receive 3 percent pay increases in April. The council approved the increase but denied the increase to eight Park Department employees who are in negotiations to join the union representing streets and sanitation employees.
As expected, the council authorized the advertisement for a public hearing at its March meeting to reveal its plans for a tax increase to offset declining revenue in the Cumulative Capital Development Fund. The council is looking to increase the rate from 2 cents per $100 assessed valuation of property to 5 cents.
Clerk Treasurer Chris Stidham and Mayor James Snyder met with County Treasurer Mike Bucko to discuss borrowing money from the county hospital fund to purchase garbage trucks.
The city recently awarded a purchase agreement to Peterbilt Trucks of Portage for three automated garbage trucks. City officials are requesting a loan of $775,000 from the county at what it believes is a more favorable interest rate than that which would result from a lease-purchase agreement offered by Peterbilt.
Stidham is hopeful that the county could loan up to $1.5 million, allowing the city to also acquire a new ambulance and extra police cars.
Stidham said that while Porter County has loaned money to other government units from outside Porter County, this would be the first such loan to a local government within the county.