Saturday, September 14, 2013

Times Reports School District Seeks to be Carved Out of TIF District Expansion in Portage

From the Northwest Indiana Times:

The city's Redevelopment Commission will begin discussions next month on if, and how, it can carve out the local school district from any future expansion of the city tax increment financing districts.

Portage Township Schools Superintendent E. Ric Frataccia made a formal request of the commission in June. He sent a letter to Mayor James Snyder, who chairs the panel, asking the school district be exempt from all future TIFs.

Frataccia told Snyder and the commission in the letter that the recently enacted property tax caps have had a negative impact on school funding and the combination of a low of revenue due to the tax caps and TIF districts have posed a burden on the school district's budget.

At its meeting this week, city attorney Gregg Sobkowski said he has researched the issue and found a couple of options the commission can use under state law to return some of the funds collected in the TIF districts to the school district.

One option, he said, would be for Portage to undertake projects using TIF revenue that would benefit both the school and TIF districts. Sobkowski said the city did recently undertake such a project by improving Airport Road and realigning the intersection of Portage High School with Pan Am Boulevard. The realignment also included installation of a traffic signal.

The second option, Sobkowski said, would be for the commission to authorize a certain percentage of the TIF revenues to be used for job training programs.

"It think it is a very valid point," Snyder said of the school district's position. "We don't want to be an impediment on the schools."