Archive for Thursday, February 15, 2007

Consultants say road shortcomings justify TIF district

February 15, 2007

The eventual creation of an interchange between Interstate 70 and Leavenworth County Road 1 might make the difference in establishing a Tax Increment Financing district in eastern Eudora.

Eudora City Administrator Cheryl Beatty presented the possibility with an amended blight study Feb. 7 to the Eudora Planning Commission. The commission and city council saw an earlier draft of the study in December.

The city hired planning consultants Bucher, Willis and Ratliff to draft the plan to prove a parcel of land east of town is unfit for economic development.

"We believe we can sell this to the attorney without a doubt," Beatty said.

The proposed district will be at the city's eastern limits running from Seventh Street to Kansas Highway 10.

If formed, the TIF district would provide a way for the city to pay for infrastructural improvements needed to attract commercial development. In essence, the TIF district freezes the area at a set property tax level. Any tax proceeds collected in excess of the frozen level would then go to pay for the infrastructural improvements.

The district still needs to be approved by the city council and will be subject to a public hearing. Even before heading to the council, the study needs to meet the requirements of Gilmore and Bell, the city's bonding agency.

"These bond attorneys will be very critical on us on the study because their reputation is on the line on it," Beatty said. "They have to defend in court if it's ever challenged."

Representatives from Bucher, Willis and Ratliff leaned on the incoming interchange heavily as a basis for many of the arguments in the blight study, Beatty said.

For example, the study illustrates roads within the proposed TIF district as being ill suited to the traffic the interchange might bring.

Should the bond counsel accept and endorse the blight study, Beatty predicted the next steps for the formation of the district would go smoothly.

After the bond attorneys accept the study it would be next in the council's court, she said.

"We're comfortable with it," Beatty said. "We're comfortable saying this is a true analysis of our situation and we can ask them to declare it a TIF district."

The city has several developers on hand ready to build within the district, Beatty said.

In particular, Wilson and Hoover LLC are looking to use TIF funds to build the commercial portion of their Deer Valley Estates near Intech Business Park.

The planning commission expressed unanimous support for the revised blight study.

"I think you got it," Planning Commission Chair Kurt von Achen said.

If all goes as planned, Beatty predicted the blight study could be in front of the city council within a month.

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