Valparaiso TIF hearing delayed until January
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent December 20, 2013 6:10PM
Updated: December 20, 2013 7:01PM
VALPARAISO — The final public hearing about extending the Tax Increment Financing district to include to properties being brought into the city has been delayed to Jan. 15.
The public hearing was supposed to happen last week, at the Valparaiso Redevelopment Commission meeting, but the city hadn’t advertised the event in time, Commission Executive Director Stu Summers said.
However, the commission allowed comments on the 33.4 acres where Pratt Industries will build a new paper plant and about 146 acres of apartments and a business park known as the SJBZ Porter development affiliated with Don Weiss.
Only 46 acres of SJBZ, which is the business park, will be in the tax-increment district. That means any increase in tax revenue from that district would go solely to the Redevelopment Commission to use instead being spread to all taxing bodies.
Those other taxing bodies, such as the fire department and schools, will receive the same property tax draws as they do now.
Karen Higbie of the East Porter Township School Board was the only person to speak about the tax-increment districts, and she did not like the fact that the district would be in place and diverting the additional taxes for 25 years.
“Some of our kindergartners in Porter County may have their own kindergartners” by the time the TIF expires, Higbie said.
She said the property that has been put inside tax-increment districts has doubled in less than 10 years, and with the new proposal, there have been seven additions since the 2004 consolidation.
Those added 10 to 30 years to the TIFs, she said.
Higbie also asked that the Redevelopment Commission give annual impact statements about the base assessed valuation of property and tax rates with and without the TIF.
Also at the meeting, the commission considered adding new pathways to the city’s network of bike and walking trails.
A recent study the city commissioned looked at putting pathways in on Evans Avenue from Silhavy Road to Pine Creek Road; on LaPorte Avenue from Silhavy to Porter’s Vale shopping center; on Calumet Avenue between Bullseye Lake Road and Burlington Beach Road; and on either side of Vale Park Road from Calumet to Silhavy.
The commission members directed city staff to look at acquiring land for the path on the north of Vale Park, from the Masters apartment complex to Silhavy, but only putting in a four-foot wide sidewalk instead of the eight-foot wide usual for pathways.
Whether the city proceeds depends on December tax draws.
The city also may use federal money from the Calumet and Burlington Beach intersection improvements to build a pathway to Bullseye Lake. City Engineer Tim Burkman said the LaPorte pathway should wait as the city may put roundabouts at the dangerous intersections from Silhavy east.