RDA Pushes New Tax; Punts on Six Figure Bonus for Director
Board will likely add six figure bonus to agenda next month
RDA President and CEO Bill Hanna l
November 9, 2017-The RDA Board dropped a proposed raise and six figure bonus for CEO and President Bill Hanna earlier today. According to sources familiar with the negotiations, a bonus of 20% of salary and student loan repayment as well as a raise in salary from $179,000 to $195,000 was on a version of the agenda that was scrapped at the last minute. RDA Board President Donald Fesko realized he didn’t have the votes to ram the raises through after Porter County Republican Chris Campbell failed to show. The Board is comprised of 2 appointments from the Governor, one from Porter County and 4 from Lake County. Only the Gary representative, Bill Joiner, indicated he was willing to support the pay raise in executive session according to the source. The raise was discussed via e-mail prior to the meeting which is standard practice for the RDA Board despite Indiana Law requiring decisions to be made in public meetings. The RDA is funded with $14M in casino revenue from Lake County and $3.5M in CEDIT funds from Porter County.
In other business, the Board continued to push a highly unpopular plan to institute a food and beverage tax. In conjunction with the Lake County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, the RDA is promoting adoption of 1% tax on food and beverages in Lake County. The new tax would apply to any food purchased at a restaurant and proceeds would be used to build a convention center in Lake County. RDA CFO Sherri Ziller explained that there is a “windshield tour” next week where the RDA will take “stakeholders” to various region attractions including restaurants and entertainment hubs. The tour was described as a way for local leaders to see potential sites for a convention center. The agenda item listing the convention center feasibility study is listed below. Ironically, just above this item is the category “Economic Development” and the update for that category is “None.”
Please let us know in the comments, should Lake County residents pay a new tax to build a convention center?