Ports of Indiana chief disputes Portage mayor’s bid for additional revenue
By John Robbins Post-Tribune correspondent July 2, 2013 11:20PM
Portage Mayor Jim Snyder
Updated: July 3, 2013 9:27PM
PORTAGE — A presentation by Richard Cooper, chief executive officer of the Ports of Indiana, to the Portage City Council on Tuesday night that was billed as an informational session caught Mayor James Snyder by surprise when it assumed the shape of a rebuttal and rebuff to Snyder’s efforts to secure additional funds from the port to pay for city services.
Earlier this year Snyder attempted a legislative strategy that would have required a form of payment in lieu of taxes to Portage from the Port of Indiana. Snyder, trying to plug budget holes, argued then that the port does not pay its fair share for city services, such as police and fire protection.
Snyder claims that the underlying port property, owned by the state, has a taxable equivalent value of $1.2 million, a portion of which he is angling to get to help fill Portage’s coffers.
The conclusion of the report prepared for the port by H. J. Umbaugh and Associates of Indianapolis presented at Tuesday’s meeting was that, “Tax revenue is more than sufficient to cover city services.” The report states that for the years 2010 through 2013, the city received over $9.53 million in taxes from port businesses.
A review of statistics prepared by the port disputed the number of police and fire calls to port property reported by the city, a review contested by Police Chief Troy Williams.
The mayor was taken aback by the presentation and closely questioned Cooper. “I worked hard to not make this contentious,” Snyder said.
“We take this very seriously,” Cooper said. “We wanted to come here today and present the facts. It wasn’t in the spirit of contention.”
Councilman Ted Uzelac urged a spirit of cooperation: “We need to work together.”