Panel sets guidelines on what TIF can pay for

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Cape Girardeau's Tax Increment Financing Commission established some rough guidelines Tuesday night on what could be paid for with TIF funds.

Commissioner Al Stoverink came to the meeting with a list of ideas of how to decide what parts of the Prestwick Plantation developers' TIF proposal would be funded.

The Prestwick group has asked that $30 million in TIF funds be used to help build infrastructure for a 900-acre subdivision near a recently completed golf course. The developers have requested $24 million for infrastructure, $4 million to go to the school district, about $1.4 million to go toward Bloomfield Road improvements and about $600,000 for new city equipment.

The commission also agreed that part of the independent analysis being done by Chauncy Buchheit out of the Southeast Missouri Regional Planning, should include the amount of increased revenue each taxing entity would receive based on projected development over the span of the TIF. That amount would be the minimum payment required from the developers.

Sluggish process

Cord Dombrowski, one of the developers, voiced frustration at the beginning of the meeting over the overall sluggish process.

There has been a lack of communication between the developers and the school board, and it appears the school district is far from comfortable with the current proposal.

The commission could have had more meaningful discussions had the two parties come to an agreement before the meeting, but Dombrowski left the meeting in a better mood than he came in.

"We're coming closer to agreeing on what we're going to agree to," he said. "Al Stoverink was dead on on bringing up some of these issues. Now, we can come to some concessions. So this is exciting."

Stoverink's guidelines for what could be paid for by TIF money were:

All public infrastructure leading to the boundaries of the development.

Part of the costs of infrastructure inside the TIF district if it serves a larger area, such as a sewer trunk that passes through the development or a public park.

Any capital cost of any taxing entity that can be directly related to the development, like fire trucks and police cars.

For future nonresidential development TIF proposals, all legally eligible items that can be considered based on job creation and development.

The guidelines will be made more specific later.

An economic tool

Much of Tuesday night's meeting was spent discussing the premise behind TIF.

Tax increment financing is an economic tool used to help encourage development. The increased taxes generated from a TIF district go to assist the development in that area. In this case, the money would be used to pay for infrastructure. Since this project is almost exclusively residential, the school district would be most affected because it is funded with property taxes.

The school board and the developers still haven't come to an agreement on how much money the school will receive as part of the negotiations. There has been some talk of a property donation for a new school, but Rob Huff, who represents the school district on the commission, said the $4 million that has been offered by the developers would not pay for a new school.

Huff also made the argument that the school district's property taxes were not meant to fund things like streets and infrastructure.

Commission chairman Al Spradling III countered by saying proposed improvements to Bloomfield Road -- now estimated at nearly $5 million -- would make the street safer to carry school buses.

The city's estimate for the Bloomfield improvement went up from 1.4 million to $4.8 million because the original estimate was on a fairly narrow asphalt street. The city's new estimate is based on a 36-foot-wide concrete street with curbs and gutters. The new development would demand a better street than what the city had in its capital improvement program, said Kent Bratton, the city planner.

"If we're going to improve the street, let's do it right," Spradling said.

bmiller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

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