By Joe Bachman
WISCONSIN RAPIDS — City officials have green-lighted an amendment that would allow for the use of current tax increment financing (TIF) through District 7 on outside development.
The amendment makes it possible for the city to take funds from TIF and apply it to projects no more than half a mile from the district boundaries. City officials estimate that this will provide an additional $15.3 million dollars of expenditures for area development. The original District 7 TIF dates back to 2005.
Tax increment financing is used to pay for future development of an area with future taxes collected from the district. The financial tool has been utilized across Wisconsin, including areas of Racine and Chippewa Falls.
“It’s a framework that will allow you to spend money on certain types of projects that the city has identified at its discretion,” said Ehlers Senior Municipal Advisor Phillip Cosson. “It’s framework to allow another source of revenue to help pay for some of that, and that’s the TIF.”
District 7 a”Blighted” District
At least fifty percent of District 7 is considered a “blighted” area, which initially moved the city to utilize a TIF in 2005 with the goal to eliminate such a label. A blighted area, according to Wisconsin Statute 66.1105(2)(ae)1 is:
An area, including a slum area, in which the structures, buildings or improvements, which by reason of dilapidation, deterioration, age or obsolescence, inadequate provision for ventilation, light, air, sanitation, or open spaces, high density of population and overcrowding, or the existence of conditions which endanger life or property by fire and other causes, or any combination of these factors is conducive to ill health, transmission of disease, infant mortality, juvenile delinquency, or crime, and is detrimental to the public health, safety, morals or welfare.
The full statue can be read at this link.
This includes areas of W. Grand Ave. to E. Grand Ave., including veterans park and city hall. The city has projected that approximately $16.5 million dollars will be created as the result of new development and property value, including redevelopment and appreciation of existing properties.
Future projects include river wall maintenance, bridge lighting, park enhancements, public parking enhancements, and railroad relocation. Also included in the amendment is the potential for sewer maintenance and upgrades, site grading, and development as a part of the riverfront and triangle redevelopment projects.
“In the event that there is a project that requires TIF funding, each project is evaluated and each developer’s agreement is reviewed and approved individually,” said Public Works Director Joe Terry. “Any project is overseen by the planning commission and council on an individual basis.”
It is important to note that this amendment has no effect on current tax codes or rates.
The amendment will go through three steps, as while the initial approval was met by the planning commission, it must go through city council approval on April 18, and then final approval by the Joint Review Board on May 1.