6/7/2018 4:05:00 PM Michigan City approves TIF expansion for northeast entrance to city
Doug Ross, Times of Northwest Indiana Senior Reporter
MICHIGAN CITY — The city’s north tax increment financing district has been expanded to include a stretch of U.S. 12 east of Blue Chip Casino, but it barely squeaked through.
The City Council voted 5-4 Tuesday night to include “vacant, underutilized properties with a declining assessed value," as Councilwoman Sharon Carnes, D-5th, described the area. Carnes was the author of the resolution to expand the TIF district.
That area is a gateway to the city, she said, and the council had the choice to turn it into a “nice entry” or leave it “a heap.”
“It’s largely vacant, and it’s been underutilized for close to 20 years,” Carnes said.
The council and others talk about bringing jobs to Michigan City, she said, but “you have to create the climate for the businesses in the first place.”
A TIF district allows the city to capture new property taxes within that area for capital projects there.
Councilman Johnny Stimley, D-at large, voted against the expansion.
“This would be a 20-year freeze,” he said. Stimley said he was concerned that a future council or a future Redevelopment Commission wouldn’t help Michigan City Area Schools capture additional taxes generated in that part of the TIF district. “In the next 20 years, I believe, our employees will want raises, they’ll want better insurance."
Councilman Tim Bietry, D-at large, voted for the ordinance.
“In truth, the impact of the TIF for schools is negligible,” he said, citing a financial analysis done for the city.
“I think a vote to not do this is a slap in the face of the Plan Commission,” which approved it April 24, along with the RDC and economic development, Bietry said.
Carnes said making that area ripe for development could entail environmental cleanups.
“How could the city fund this development without a TIF?” she asked.
Councilman Ron Hamilton, D-3rd, voted against the TIF expansion.
“There is no part of this city that should not have good infrastructure,” he said, and riverboat casino revenue should pay for it.