February 15, 2017-Imagine if all of your schools, police, fire and city services had to be funded at 1985 levels. Under HB 1144, authored by Representative Hal Slager R-15, that will be the case from this year going forward until 2047 for large areas in Lake County. House Bill 1144 seeks to capture increases all sources of revenue within “transit development districts” for the next thirty years and provide that funding to the failed Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA). The bill provides that the RDA then would take the money and provide it for development within the transit development districts. In short, the money would go to developers wishing to build condominiums, strip malls and other corporations wishing to do business near the South Shore extension or main line.
An Amended House Bill 1144 would freeze tax revenues at 2015 levels for areas within a mile radius of transit stations. This would include sales taxes, property taxes and local option income taxes. The unprecedented scope of the bill is evidence of just how desperate proponents of the plan are, and the lengths to which they will go to foist the plan on region residents. The original version of House Bill 1144 captured only sales tax and set out a “Rail Transit Development Corridor” which consisted of all areas within 1/2 mile of the South Shore line. That Bill was set to be heard in committee yesterday but, apparently, Visclosky, Slager and Hanna decided sales tax alone was not enough money for their grand plans.
The Bill promises to set up a conflict with the Munster School Corporation which is seeking two separate property tax increases in a referendum in May. Additionally, the Gary Community School Corporation is seeking a state bailout for a $100M shortfall. Slager’s bill would cripple the school corporations, freezing any increases in revenue and providing them to Visclosky’s RDA. Visclosky’s RDA then would directly subsidize corporations that want to build in compliance with their plan. Visclosky’s RDA estimates that their transit oriented development plan will cost in excess of $1.2B but says much of that will come from private developers. Slager’s desperate plan seems to suggest that, like many of the RDA statements, that simply is not true.
The plan is a part of Congressman Peter Visclosky’s radical transformation of the region. Munster Democrat Mara Candelaria-Reardon signed on to the bill as a co-sponsor yesterday.