Archive for Thursday, August 30, 2007

TIF project plan fits city’s vision

August 30, 2007

A tax increment financing district meant to stimulate economic growth in Eudora took an important step forward last week with the Eudora Planning Commission's approval of the project.

The creation of the district would allow the developers of the Deer Valley subdivision to divert sales and property taxes to finance infrastructure improvements at the site.

The Eudora Planning Commission agreed that the first project slated for the district fits into the city's long-range plan.

F. Chase Simmons, legal counsel for Wilson and Hoover Homes LLC, presented a TIF project plan Aug. 22 to the commission during a special meeting.

The presentation marked the first step in a process that would eventually lead to construction of the Deer Valley subdivision.

The TIF district includes 271 acres in an area north and south of 10th Street and east and west of East 2300 Road.

The city formed the TIF district as a way to spark commercial growth in the area. The district basically freezes the area at its current assessed value, which for the project is $19,015. The city would bond out certain infrastructural improvements within the area, such as the installation of sewers and street improvements, to be paid for through property taxes collected in excess of the land's current value. Half of the city's .5 percent unrestricted sales tax from retail activity within the district also would be applied to paying off the infrastructure debt (the .5 percent tax for the new pool would not be affected).

Earlier in the district's formation, the city and developers agreed to an additional 5-mill tax reimbursement for Eudora USD 491. The district already has 20-mills of taxing authority protected under state law. Because other taxing entities must receive the same reimbursement, 10.8 percent of the total mill levy of each jurisdiction would not be subject to the TIF.

The city is now in the second stage of a two-step process in the TIF district's formation, Simmons said.

The first step was the actual formation of the district, he said.

"The next step is the utilization of the TIF. It takes a portion of the TIF district and creates redevelopment project plan or what are also called TIF plans for the area," Simmons said.

The group presented a plan for the 80-acre northwest quadrant of the district.

The project plan, drafted in conjunction with Wilson and Hoover and The Peridian Group Inc., includes commercial and light industrial components. The Deer Valley subdivision also includes a residential element not directly eligible for TIF funding.

Only a fraction of the commercial components would be eligible for city funds.

Of the estimated $63.5 million project, the developers are asking for $3.77 million be eligible for TIF funds.

The city will look at disbursement of the TIF in a pay-as-you-go format, Eudora City Administrator Cheryl Beatty said.

"We got to kind of look out into the future and make some projections of what's going to happen over time," Simmons said.

A summary of the plan proclaimed the project's goal to be "a beautiful front door to the city of Eudora."

Preliminary plans for the commercial area include a shopping center area that would be attached to at least three retail stores and managed as a coherent retail entity.

A preliminary retirement schedule for the bond presented with the project plan shows a $4.39 million TIF bond at 7 percent interest could be retired within 15-years.

After Simmons explained the project plan's highlights, discussion between members of the planning commission was short.

In January 2006, the city rezoned the area in question to commercial and residential proposed in the Dear Valley subdivision.

"We've already zoned that. It's pretty much wrapped up I think," Commissioner Patrick Jankowski said.

The planning commissioners agreed unanimously that the project plan fit within the city's long-range plan.

The Eudora City Council agreed Monday to set a public hearing and formal presentation on the plan for the Oct. 8 meeting

Meanwhile, the city will be working with outside agencies to verify the developer's numbers and come up with a written agreement dividing developmental responsibilities for the area, Beatty said.

After the public hearing, the council will vote to either accept or deny the project plan.

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