Cedar Lake, Lowell, Griffith, Portage, Michigan City, LaPorte, South Bend could all lose local income tax and property tax to RDA for 30 years under Slager/Visclosky plan.
March 10, 2017-At a meeting of the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA) yesterday, RDA Chair Bill Hanna stated that transit development districts could be created at any bus stop under Hal Slager’s proposed House Bill 1144. Hanna was questioned by Munster resident Pam Eanes. Eanes asked whether the bill would allow the unelected RDA to create a transit development district around a bus stop. Hanna replied, “we anticipate creating TOD around bus stops.” Hanna went on to say that increased bus service is integral to the plan to create transit oriented development.
Under House Bill 1144, the RDA could come into any area where there is a train or bus stop and create a “transit development district” (TDD) consisting of one square mile of territory. The territory area would be defined by the unelected RDA and could be any shape as long as it consisted of one square mile of territory or less and touched a transit stop. The unelected RDA would then take all increases in property tax, local option income tax, sales tax and state income tax from that area for 30 years. Locals would have little say in the creation of the TDD and could only sit by and watch as their schools, police and fire services crumble for lack of funding. The money would be used to fund Congressman Visclosky’s Regional Transformation initiative. The funds, taken largely from local schools and municipal governments, would then be used for enticing developers to come into the area. Supporters of the bill say that the money would not exist absent the new development but experience tells us otherwise. One need only look at the cities of Gary and Chicago to see the devastating impact of tax increment financing on local schools.
Previously, supporters of the bill stated it would only affect those communities that had or later received South Shore train service. The provision in the bill that provides a TDD at a “stop” puts local property tax revenue and income tax revenue at risk in every community in Northwest Indiana.
Slager has repeatedly said that the bill will be revised in the Senate but has refused to say how it will be revised. The bill has received sponsorship from State Senator Eddie Melton, Senator Karen Tallian, Senator Rick Niemeyer and Senate Committee on Tax and Fiscal Policy Brandt Hershman. So far, local “leaders” have been silent in the regional power grab by Slager and Visclosky but residents are speaking out against it.