[ Back to the Crown Point
Network ] [ Star ] [ Subscribe to the STAR ]
estimates befuddle assessors
By Andrew Steele
Star Managing Editor
CROWN POINT - Homeowners aren't the only people left bewildered by the
State Tax Board's recent announcement of a new property assessment system that would
dramatically raise residential property taxes in much of Lake County.
Local property assessor's are also unsure of what the future holds.
"The whole thing is bizarre," said Center Township Assessor
Martha Wheeler. "I have lost my trust in the State Tax Board."
"I'm just sitting back and wondering what's going on," said
Hanover Township Assessor Carl Speichert.
The property reassessment period officially began July 1, but
assessors still don't have a reassessment manual.
"We don't know precisely how we're supposed to do it,"
Wheeler said. "The manual is our bible."
She said she has no idea how the tax board developed its numbers,
which show increases ranging from 3 to 10 percent for most of south Lake County.
Exceptions include the Ross Township portion of Crown Point, which
would see a nearly 25 percent increase, and West Creek Township, which would see a
decrease of almost 13 percent.
Those shifts are minor compared to the 240 percent increase East
Chicago homeowners would see.
"How these people can come up with all these crazy statements is
beyond me," Wheeler said. "I think (the tax board is) doing a ... poor job.
"The current reassessement will go on the books in 2001 for
property taxes payable in 2002.
The potentially dramatic tax rate changes are a result of a ruling by
the Indiana Supreme Court requiring a change in the assessment process to force a more
objective, market-oriented approach.
The proposed change has the effect of shifting property taxes from
business and farms to residential property.
But Speichert questioned the state's position on the distribution of
Lake County's tax burden.
"Why is the State Tax Board trying to shift tax burden from
industry to residents?" he said. "I don't see where the industry is that
Regardless of what the State Tax Board says, Wheeler doesn't believe
the state legislature will allow the dramatic tax increases shown in the board's
"The legislature isn't going to allow anything that hurts
residential tax payers too much," she said, because "they're the voters."
The courts did "throw everybody a curve ball," Wheeler
acknowledged, so there will be some change, but "I don't look for anything that's
going to wipe people out."
Speichert noted that the dramatic changes would affect a small part of
"The only two townships out of line are Hobart and North,"
he said, noting all taxing jurisdictions in those townships face significant increases,
while other townships have more moderate increases, and even some decreases.
The complete story is available in the STAR.
Gary Ganek of G & D Cork Decoys in Fox Lake, Illinois explains the qualities of his
painted decoys to Paul Copak of Cedar Lake during the Waterfowl Show held at the
Fairgrounds over the weekend.
Grants benefit art, space centers
|By Karen Caffarini
CROWN POINT - Students and the homebound will be among those in south
Lake County benefiting from grants awarded this month to area agencies by the Lilly
Endowment Board of Directors.
Among the agencies receiving grant money from the Endowment in this
latest round are the Challenger Learning Center in Hammond, $200,000 for the purchase of a
second simulator; Meals on Wheels of Northwest Indiana in Crown Point, $65,000 to purchase
equipment; and Northern Indiana Art Association in Munster and the Northwest Indiana
Symphony, which will split a $200,000 grant.
The grants are among $26.8 million in grants provided to 201 community
projects throughout the state in Phase IV of the Endowment's Giving Indiana Funds for
The September grants follow 24 projects already approved in June and
84 in July for a total of $42.2 million for 309 GIFT IV projects. Another 100 projects are
slated for consideration before the end of the year.
John Cain, executive director of NIAA, said the art association will
use its $100,000 to purchase a bus to transport students to the association's three sites
- in Crown Point, Munster and Hammond - for classes and to enhance its educational
"Last year, we had Cedar Lake students taking classes at the
Crown Point Art Center on scholarship. This year we are enhancing this educational
outreach program to include Lowell, too," Cain said.
| He said the bus, which
probably won't be available for several months, would be used to transport the students
from Lowell and Cedar Lake to the Crown Point site, on the east side of the square.
He said the bus probably would pick the students up at their schools
and return them there following the class.
"Now we rely on the parents to get the kids to the centers. But
the farther away from the center that they live, the harder it is to get the kids
there," he said. "Some kids had to pass on the scholarships because they had no
He said the bus also would be used to take seniors to classes and to
take people on art center-sponsored field trips.
The Symphony, Cain said, will use its $100,000 entirely for
educational outreach purposes.
Lisa Karney, director of the Challenger Learning Center, said the
$200,000 grant will be used to help pay the $750,000 cost for a second simulator at the
Purdue University Calumet site.
She said the center will be going to various corporations and private
businesses seeking the remaining $550,000.
Karney said the second simulator will enable the center to have 600
missions a year, compared to the 300 missions it can now have.
"We could serve 20,000 kids with two simulators," she said.
She said the second simulator should be installed next summer, at
which time the new building that will house the center should be completed as well.
She said the new building, which is projected to be 5,000 square feet, will be located
one-half block south of the center's current, temporary location.
| The Challenger center is for
students in fifth through eighth grades. It simulates a mission in space.
Margot Clark, of Meals on Wheels, could not be reached for comment.
However, a prepared release by the Lilly Endowment said the $65,000 it received is to
purchase equipment to upgrade services.
Other Lake County agencies receiving Lilly money include: Griffith
Izaak Walton Conservation Lands in Schererville, $200,000 for construction of a hiking and
biking trail; Lake County Public Library in Merrillville, $200,000 for conversion of human
services databases; Northwest Indiana Planned Giving Group in Merrillville, $50,000 for
support for program management and marketing; and YMCA of Hammond area, $200,000 for
support for teen leadership development project.
All the Lake County grants were applied for through the Crown Point
Community Foundation and Legacy Foundation.
A year ago, the Endowment allotted $153 million for GIFT IV funds for
use by the more than 90 community foundations in Indiana. The foundations were eligible to
receive $1.5 million for their counties; $300,000 of which was in matching funds to
improve foundation operations.
The remaining $1.2 million, or any part of it, could be used for local
projects recommended by the foundation for direct Endowment funding, with the balance to
be received by the foundation itself for any charitable purpose it chooses.