The Terry County Commissioners jumped on board the downtown rejuvenation project Monday morning, agreeing to participate in a unique program adopted last fall by the City Council. Proposed improvements include a pocket park at the corner of 6th and Main to beautify the current eyesore of a vacant lot, as well as new sidewalks along Main adjacent to the courthouse, corner bump-outs at two intersections, antique lamp posts, re-configured parking on the north side of the courthouse and a decorative wall to shield a vacant lot on the south side of the square.
A Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Zone to fund the $750,000 project was adopted by the commissioners on a unanimous vote. Brownfield attorney Jimmy Hammons addressed the court about the legal specifics of the TIF Zone. Hammons has been working on the project with Brownfield Industrial Development Corp. director David Partlow for more than a year.
“A TIF Zone is a reinvestment zone that allows for a way to generate funds to improve infrastructure or a blighted area to induce growth within a city,” Hammons said. “Basically, it’s a sophisticated type of financing to fund improvements.”
The TIF Zone adopted has an oddly shaped border with arms stretching to different areas inside the city limits which could see growth. Any increase in property value that occurs within the TIF Zone over the next five years will benefit the downtown renovation by diverting only the difference in taxes incurred because of the rise in value.
For instance, if existing property within the zone is valued a $10 million, but improvements or additions raise the value to $15 million within the allotted time frame, the taxes generated by that additional $5 million would go into a separate fund to finance the downtown renovation. It is not a tax increase, because the property would be taxed regardless, but the adoption of the TIF Zone reserves those funds for the specific use.
“Any increase in value inside of that area applies,” Hammons told the court. “We don’t take away any current tax money from the entities. By participating, they just agree to divert the possible increase to the improvement project. A TIF Zone allows a wide array of projects that can be done. It’s a way to generate money to take care of a situation that would help beautify Brownfield and aid in economic development.”
Partlow said the TIF Zone has been a year-long process, which began as a way to correct the unsightly appearance of the vacant corner caddy-corner from the newly renovated Terry County Courthouse.
“It’s a blighted area on a main thoroughfare and I was asked to find a way to improve it,” he said. “This won’t happen overnight. We’re going to have to wait a year to find out approximately how much money we’ll be bringing in.”
A $10 million increase in property value within the TIF Zone would generate approximately $110,000 per year for the project. “Once we know what we’re going to make, we’ll create a TIF Zone board and then it will meet and decide what to do next,” Partlow said.
Article courtesy of the Brownfield News