Gary, US Steel coordinate tax increment finance deal to pay for upgrades and community improvements

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Gary Works in 1973
The Gary Works in 1973 (Wikipedia)

The City of Gary and U.S. Steel Corp. has agreed on a tax increment finance district deal that will see upgrades to the Gary Works steel mill and payments to various aspects of city government.

The Gary Redevelopment Commission cast three votes of 5-0 each on resolutions that approve parts of the deal, which makes it possible for U.S. Steel to make significant upgrades to steel mills across the country – including the Gary Works plant that an executive said would remain a flagship of the company’s operations, The Chicago Tribune has reported.

“We’re not making the same improvements at every plant,” said Paul Vercher, a governmental affairs director for U.S. Steel. “This move will ensure that Gary remains our largest operation.”

Gary will designate a portion of the Gary Works plant as a tax increment finance district that will put the property tax monies paid by U.S. Steel into a special fund, where the city can then give it back to U.S. Steel to pay for the improvements they want to make to the steel mill.

In exchange for the tax break, U.S. Steel will pay money into a special fund that will go directly to Gary city officials to help cover municipal expenses, the newspaper reported. Organizations including the Gary Common Council, the Gary Community School Corp. and the Gary Public Library will receive a portion of the funds.

Vercher said that the company intends to cooperate with Gary on various projects that could boost the economic development of the city, and will be listening largely to what Gary officials say are their priorities in terms of what should be done.

“The city will be telling us what direction they want us to go in,” Vercher said.

Dayna Bennett, the chief of staff to Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, said the city could start seeing revenue related to the deal within a month, while A.J. Bytnar, the Redevelopment commission’s executive director, said the deal is a significant portion of overall plans meant to revitalize Gary city finances and enable the city to pay off its debts, The Tribune reported.

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