City Hall Ribbon Cutting and Grand Re-Opening Tours October 1
Residents are invited to join Mayor Costas and team for a Valpo Chamber Ribbon Cutting and tour of the newly renovated City Hall. Join us on Tuesday, October 1 at 166 Lincolnway for remarks at 4:00pm and tours from 4:30pm-6:00pm.

City Hall has been under construction since November 2018 to renovate the current space and add about 2,000 square feet. The additional space will house new council chambers, ADA accessible bathrooms, the building department and an elevator. This renovation allows our departments to have enhanced work spaces from the basement up, with additional conference rooms, greater office space, new technology opportunities and room to grow for the future. The goal of this project is to ensure that City Hall is more user-friendly and accessible to our residents. Note that City Hall will be temporarily closed as employees move back from Hayes Leonard School during the week of October 7.
News in :90 Highlights
To keep our residents informed on current projects and news the city's Community Engagement Department has launched " News in :90 " videos that provide quick updates (about 90 seconds) in an easy to view format. Check out our recent News in :90's below!
City Engineer, Adam McAlpine, provides an update on the construction at the Silhavy/LaPorte roundabout to recognize the Federal Highway Administration's National Roundabouts Week. Watch!
Public Works Director, Nate McGinley, offers an update on the 2019 street paving taking place around town and the impact of the Community Crossings Grant Program. Watch!
Valpo Parks to host Horticulture Open House Sept. 26
Community members are invited to join Valpo Parks and the Valpo Parks Foundation , along with sponsors 1st Source Bank, Lehman & Lehman and SiteOne Landscape Supply, in celebrating the new Valpo Parks Horticulture Center on Thursday, September 26, 2019 from 4:30-6:00 p.m. This is your opportunity to tour all the Horticulture buildings, greenhouses, etc. and see what goes on behind the scenes to keep Valparaiso “blooming.”  Also, be sure to visit the future dog park areas to see the layout of the project, the beautiful property and what future opportunities will be available with that project. Both sites are located at 2902 Campbell Street. View the invite for more information.
South Shore Connect Ridership Update
The City of Valparaiso launched South Shore Connect in August as another transit option for residents who travel or commute using the South Shore Line. The South Shore Connect offers weekday and weekend schedules with two stops in Valparaiso that can take riders to and from the Shore Shore Dune Park Station in Chesterton. In August, 311 rides were provided and popularity continues to grow with 237 rides provided already this month (as of 9/17). There are a mix of riders using the South Shore Connect with commuters coming to Valparaiso from South Bend as well as commuters taking the bus regularly to work in Chicago. We're finding that this transit option is valuable to Chicago commuters using it midday and later in the evening if they have to leave early or stay late at work. This service is meant to complement our existing ChicaGO Dash bus routes and to help passengers get to the train more easily.

South Shore Connect will continue to offer free rides through October 31 and free parking is available at the Valparaiso stop located at 260 Brown Street. You can track the bus by downloading the " DoubleMap " app. Valparaiso’s South Shore Connect service is funded through federal grants with support from NICTD. Local matching funds are coming from the Valparaiso Redevelopment Commission with service offset by commuter revenue. 
Neighborhood Watch
Neighborhood Watch celebrates our neighborhoods by sharing stories of success, highlighting completed projects and more. Contact us to share a story from your neighborhood!
Banta Neighborhood Association (BNA) was awarded a Neighborhood Grant in 2018 to go towards a new piece of playground equipment for toddlers at the existing park at the Banta Center. A committee of neighborhood volunteers selected the new equipment in advance after getting feedback from some of the kiddos at a block party. On Saturday, September 14, BNA, in partnership with Valpo Parks, hosted a "neighborhood build" of the new park equipment. Neighbors, community volunteers and city staff worked together to build the new pieces, dig holes for cement and lay out mulch to refresh the park as a group volunteer project. Many thanks to BNA, Valpo Parks and the Redevelopment Commission for bringing this project to life in a meaningful way!
On August 28, neighbors of Villas at Vale Park worked with the Community Engagement Department to host a neighborhood brainstorming session to think through a 2019 Neighborhood Grant project. More than 30 neighbors attended and within an hour they narrowed down their top funding priorities, adding trees on Sturdy Rd and increasing landscaping in one of their common areas.
The 2020 Budget and Your Tax Bill
In our August City Talk Now , we highlighted the 2020 budget process and what our residents can expect. As a reminder, the 2020 budget will be introduced to the City Council on Monday, September 23, a public hearing on October 14 and a final vote on October 28. The approved budget forms the basis of the City’s portion of your yearly real estate tax bill – what all property owners pay to fund City operations and services. Below are some questions and responses that the City often receives.
  • How is the City’s tax rate established? Each year the City submits its adopted budget to the Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF). The DLGF reviews the City’s budget and ensures that it is in line with all laws, regulations and other property tax controls related to spending. The City is limited as to the maximum amount that can be budgeted. In 2020, the City will have an estimated maximum tax levy (amount it can collect) of about $16.5 million, which means the City’s 2020 budget will likely increase 3.5% above our 2019 budget; however, as noted below, the City will not collect the entire amount. Once the budget meets state requirements, DLGF approves a funded budget and develops a tax rate for the City. For some, this may seem slightly counterintuitive. Many households and businesses first consider the amount of expected income and revenue sources before establishing a budget. In government finance the opposite is accurate – you establish a budget and then determine how it will be funded.
  • So, does this mean my real estate taxes will increase by 3.5%? No. City property owners receive their tax bill from the County Treasurer as calculated by the County Auditor. Although only one tax bill is issued, it includes the tax bills for Porter County, Center Township, Valparaiso Community Schools, Porter County Library and the City. Of a total tax bill, the City receives approximately 41%. Your tax bill is a combination of the DLGF established tax rates for all taxing units and the assessed value of your property, which is determined by the County Assessor. Increased real estate taxes can mean: i) your property increased in value (although the tax rate remains consistent); ii) any one of the several taxing units increased their budget; and/or, iii) the local residents approved, by referendum, a tax increase. As most residents may remember, in 2016, additional tax revenue was approved for our community schools.    
  • What is the “circuit breaker” and how does it impact local real estate taxes? Under the Indiana Constitution, which was amended in 2010, the maximum amount a residential property owner can be charged by all taxing units is 1% of the assessed value of the property plus any additional amounts approved by referendum. As an example, if a homestead property is valued at $200,000, the maximum tax liability that may be imposed on this property is $2,000. Assuming the tax liability on this property (based on a DLGF approved tax rate) after the application of all deductions and credits is $3,100, the county auditor will apply a circuit breaker credit of $1,100 to the tax bill to reduce the tax liability to $2,000. However, the $1,100 savings is not offset by other taxpayers, it is simply reduced from the taxes received by all the taxing units. The Porter County Auditor's Office presented a report on the impact of the tax caps last month, and for the City the estimated loss due to tax caps was more than $1.6 million in 2019. Although the tax cap “loss” is a gain for all taxpayers, the practical impact is that the City must anticipate that whatever is budgeted, it will receive less because of tax caps.
  • How does the City handle the impact of tax caps and circuit breaker tax credits? Carefully and holistically. On the one hand, the City and DLGF approve a budget and tax rates that reflect what is reasonable for the City to operate and provide services to its residents. On the other hand, everyone involved in the process knows the City will not collect approximately 10% of what it has budgeted. The Clerk/Treasurer’s office and department heads work to underspend their budgets on an annual basis. When appropriate, the City’s Redevelopment Commission, Utility Department and Parks Department help to offset expenses and assist on capital projects. The City also aggressively looks for ways to leverage its financial resources with state and federal funds as well as seek grants. 

That said, and despite the many constraints, the City has been able to save almost $4 million in a “rainy day” fund for future emergencies as well as maintain a “AA” bond rating – one of the highest in our region. A bond rating reflects an independent analysis of the financial strengths of the City and the organization/skills of its internal operations – especially the Clerk/Treasurer’s office.
Council Corner
Council Corner provides a sample of updates from City Council and Board and Commission meetings in a quick, easy to read format. Please note that full agendas and minutes can be found by visiting our website - the search box is a great resource to find what you're looking for! If you have additional questions or comments give us a call at city hall.

  • The City Council heard first readings on 1) 2020 Salary Ordinance; 2) an Ordinance for an additional appropriation in the City Hall Renovation Bond Fund; and 3) an Ordinance for an additional appropriation in the Capitol Equipment Fund. Additionally, they heard an update on the city's involvement related to the Order to Vacate on 502 Union Street and process going forward (City Council 9/9).
  • The Redevelopment Commission approved funds to match Valpo Parks' Tree Fund donations, discussed potential opportunities for sidewalk and pathway investments and heard from the Valparaiso Creative Council (Redevelopment Commission 9/12).
  • The Board of Zoning Appeals approved a variance on garage height and approved variances requested for a proposed development at 303 Jefferson Street and 308 Chicago Street (BZA 9/17).
  • The Mayor's Advisory Council on Disability discussed goals and visions for the Council moving forward into 2020 (MACD 8/28).
  • The Mayor's Advisory Human Relations Council had a "spotlight resource" presentation from Jon Groth and students from the Porter County Career and Tech Center, discussed the Community Cultural Grant Program and an HRC draft triage protocol (AHRC 8/27).
September is National Preparedness Month
National Preparedness Month is recognized each September to promote family and community disaster and emergency planning now and throughout the year. This awareness effort is spearheaded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the 2019 theme is "Prepared, Not Scared." In the event of emergency, it's recommended for your household to be self-reliant for three days without utilities and electricity, water service, access to a supermarket or local services or maybe even without response from rescue agencies. FEMA uses National Preparedness Month to encourage people to turn awareness into action by 1) saving early for disaster costs; 2) making a plan to prepare for disasters; 3) teaching youth to prepare for disasters; and 4) getting involved in your community's preparedness. Learn more.
Meet Your City
Maggie Clifton, Community Engagement Director
Maggie has been serving as the Community Engagement Director since March of 2018. She graduated from Ball State University in 2014 with a major in Social Work (chirp chirp!) and was working in Indianapolis before relocating to Valparaiso. Maggie keeps busy and is a member of Tri Kappa, a volunteer at United Way of Porter County's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site and serves on the board of Northwest Indiana Community Action. Maggie and her husband Kyle enjoy traveling alongside their favorite sports teams and have upcoming trips planned for Kansas City, Milwaukee, Dallas and Durham.

Meet Your City allows our residents to learn more about city staff, board and commission members and neighborhood leaders throughout the community.
Calendar and Helpful Links
Check our calendar regularly to stay up to date on our public meetings. The most current agendas and minutes can be found on our website by selecting the board or commission that you are most interested in under the “City Government” tab. Upcoming meetings of note include:

Special Events:
  • Thursday, September 26 - Valpo Parks' Horticulture Open House
  • Tuesday, October 1 - City Hall Renovation Ribbon Cutting

Quick Links:
City Talk Now is brought to you by the City's Community Engagement Department.  Contact us with any questions or feedback.

City of Valparaiso  | 219-462-1161 | 653 Hayes Leonard Rd, Valparaiso, IN 46383