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Ground break sets off TIF

By Christopher Paine 
Star Staff Writer

Crown Point - After a great deal of effort and bi-partisan passage of a new TIF district, Crown Point Mayor James Metros led a group groundbreaking at the corner of 113th and Delaware on Friday, May 12.   
     The ceremony was the start of a new construction project that will lay new water and sewer lines to the I-65 and U.S. 231 development corridor.  The development will be paid for by TIF funds. 
     "Today we're laying the groundwork for the kind of tax base Crown Point has long needed," said Metros. 
     Noting the area's potential for development and redistribution of tax burdens, the TIF district had the support of both the school board and the Chamber of Commerce. 
     The critical component to the redevelopment project was the city's switch to Lake Michigan Water four years ago. The change will allowed the city to pump an additional 6 million gallons of water a day, making Crown Point more attractive to developers. 
     According to Larry Graham, of NIPSCO, 'We worked closely with Crown Point to market the I-65/U.S. 231 area. The water was the last significant development." 
     Graham noted that the city's recent annexation of the area made development much more attractive. 
     The Opus corporation will develop the area into a business park. The Minneapolis, Minn., based firm, working out of its Rosemont office, has been involved in the project for a little over a year. 
     "It's very difficult to predict how long it will take to complete the development," said Randy Tieman, vice president and general manager of real estate for Opus' Roselawn office. 
     Tieman noted that he hoped that an announcement on prospective businesses for the area could be announced in the near future. 
     "I think we're going to attract a great group of quality tenants and businesses," Teiman said. 
     The water main extension will include nearly 14,000 feet of 20-inch water main, 20 new fire hydrants and new water service connections along the pipeline route. Sewer extension will include over 6,000 feet of 15-inch PVC sewer pipe, 4,433 feet of 18-inch PVC sewer pipe and new sewer connections to all properties along the main sewer route. 
     The project, to be handled by Gough Construction of Crown Point, will cost nearly $2 million and should be completed by Oct.15.

Teacher contract passes school board
Insurance coverage still an issue for board members

By Sean McNab 
Star Staff Writer

CROWN POINT - The Crown Point School Corporation finally came to an agreement after a long drawn out process that resulted in picketing by disgruntled teachers and verbal disagreements. Unfortunately, even after the 4-0 passage of the agreement, some board members still felt that they were short-changed. 
    The main issue centered on the adoption of a new insurance plan for regular full-time teachers. 
    The new contract would pay 100 percent of the medical costs of a single teacher and 87 percent of it for those that have families with the rest being paid by the teacher. "I do not feel comfortable with this insurance plan due to the possibilities of the 'naked risk' teachers could be subjected to. This could precipitate a negative cash flow resulting in us paying more if the insurance rates change," stated board member Mike McCormick. 
    This foreseeable problem stems from the probability that insurance rates will rise in the coming years making those under the 'family plan' having to pay more monetarily because of the fact that the 87 percent coverage is a stagnant percentage. 
    Superintendent of Crown Point Public Schools Steve Sprunger explained, "We are working with an independent consultant to get the lowest cost possible for this insurance policy. Until, though, we are able to get back to a certain amount of dollar coverage instead of a percentage, we will always have to pay a 'naked cost'." 
    A possible solution, of which is the goal of almost every school corporation, is the hopeful increase in school revenues to offset any increase in future insurance rates. 
    "We need more incoming revenues to lower the cost of this plan. One way of doing this is to make the Crown Point schools the most desired school corporation in America," commented Sprunger. 
    Moreover, the new contract includes an 'Insurance Committee' that will consist of teachers appointed by the Crown Point Education Association (CPEA). The appointees will meet at least twice a year to discuss specifications and possible recommendations that may need to be made to amend the present plan. 
    Additionally, another issue of contention was annual salary increases with each of the next school years having different setups. 
    For the school year 2000-2001, salary increases will be based on an average percentage increase as published by the Indiana Education Employment Relations Board (IEERB) on December 31, 2000. As for the following year, that of 2000-2001, the salary schedule will be the same percentage as determined by the IEERB using 120 contract settlements. 
    "Of the 120, we will not compute into the average the 10 highest salaries or 10 lowest. We felt that because we could not agree on a percentage increase, using the state average by the IEERB was our next best option," added Sprunger. 
    Still unimpressed with the new contract, board member Charles Kleinschmidt stated, "The teachers within this school corporation deserve better than this." 
    The ratification of this contract took place on May 10 of this year with it's culmination on that of August 14, 2002.


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