GARY — A public hearing can be set for the Kirk Yard tax increment finance district since the issue is headed back to the city’s Redevelopment Commission.
The Common Council at its meeting Tuesday unanimously approved the resolution that designates an area encompassing Buchanan Street headed west of Clark Street, and north of Industrial Highway, part of the TIF district and economic development area. The area will be an important part of the Canadian National Railroad’s $163 million Kirk Yard locomotive repair-shop project, the council and railroad representatives agree.
Dan Botich, a financial consultant for Cender & Cender of Merrillville, said the project, once under way, would bring 251 full-time jobs, with an average $54,000 salary, to the city as well as at least 550 temporary construction jobs. Some residents, however, asked the council if those jobs would really come to fruition and, if they did, how many would be guaranteed to Gary residents.
CN attorney Jerry Callahan said all residents were welcome to fill out a job application at the company’s website, and that requiring people to apply that way is company policy.
Residents also expressed concern that CN won’t be paying any taxes as part of the deal with the city — a point which council President Kyle Allen Sr., Botich and Callahan continued to deny.
“The TIF is created by the council, it’s true, but whatever taxes are paid on the property continue to be paid. CN bought the Kirk Yard for $400 million” Allen said. “Whatever monies are generated above the taxes they’re already paying will then go the city.”
CN doesn’t pay property taxes on the building; rather, it pays taxes on the equipment, Botich said. The railroad reports its equipment to the state each year, and the tax money from that is redistributed by trackage back to the city. Put another way, if a person owns houses all over the state, and five of them are in Gary, the state will pay back the city the equivalent of those five houses from the taxes the homeowner pays.
The public hearing will be set at the next Redevelopment Commission meeting.