The Town of Burns Harbor and the Duneland School Corporation formalized an agreement to share a portion of annual TIF revenue. The joint-effort will enhance the economic prosperity of the community through quality educational opportunities.
All School Board members voted in favor of the partnership officially Monday evening, Oct. 6. Previously, the Burns Harbor Redevelopment Commission (RDC) unanimously adopted the agreement at its meeting Sept. 24.
RDC President Greg Miller noted the agreement will benefit students and residents throughout the entire Duneland schools district.
“Burns Harbor recognizes there are many factors that influence the economic prosperity of a community,” he said, “most notably the quality of education. In addition to retaining population, improving quality of life and increasing economic wealth, quality schools can help attract a skilled professional workforce.”
While similar governing bodies have historically viewed public school systems as competition for scarce funding, Miller added, Burns Harbor instead initiated a proactive and collaborative approach. “This agreement will not impair the implementation of our goals but, in fact, will enhance it. We gain far more together than we forfeit.”
The agreement grants a portion of Burns Harbor TIF revenue to the school district to fund educational programs, work training and worker retraining programs designed to prepare individuals to participate in a competitive and global economy. Tax increment financing was created by the Burns Harbor RDC in 2000 under state law to direct property tax dollars to designated TIF districts for community improvement and economic development.
The agreement specifies up to 15 percent of the allocated tax revenues of the Burns Harbor TIF district, or an estimated $84,360 each year for 10 years, will be distributed to Duneland schools. The agreement will automatically renew in additional five-year terms, if necessary.
“On behalf of the Board and the administration of the Duneland School Corporation, we want to thank members of the Burns Harbor Redevelopment Commission and the Town Council for their foresight and collaborative efforts to maximize use of available tax revenue to enhance educational opportunities for our students and promote economic development for our school community at large. We all benefit from their interest, support and commitment to our children’s future,” said Duneland schools Superintendent Dr. David L. Pruis.
School Board President Ralph Ayres highlighted the months of work and effort, particularly by RDC member Cliff Fleming, leading up to the agreement’s adoption. “This agreement is a landmark move for our community in recognizing that the quality of education and economic development go hand-in-hand.” Ayres also serves as a non-voting member of the RDC.
Miller hopes the RDC’s out-of-the-box thinking will encourage other communities and school districts regionally and statewide to collaborate in a similar fashion.