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Only two TIF hurdles remain

December 8, 2011

Matt Eckerle of the H.J. Umbaugh accounting firm

    Only two more local hurdles remain for Decatur's tax increment financing (TIF) district: to clear: votes on December 20 seeking approval by the Decatur Plan Commission and the Decatur City Council.
    The latest was cleared on Wednesday evening by a 5-0 vote of the Decatur Redevelopment Commission (DRC) to approve the second of two required resolutions for the TIF district the DRC created in October.
    The TIF district has four parts, within which the DRC plans to be a fiscal catalyst for greater economic development, job growth, increased local spending, more tax revenue, etc.: (1) downtown, (2) the St. Marys River bank near downtown, (3) railroad right-of-way from Meibers St. to Adams St., and (4) 13th St.
    A TIF district is "very attractive and useful" in adding jobs, said Tim Baker, DRC legal counsel and Decatur's city attorney.
    "A lot of TIF money goes to help new development pay for itself," stated Matt Eckerle of the H.J. Umbaugh accounting firm, which is advising the DRC and other city leaders about TIFs.
    "This is something we need to do and I'm very supportive of it," commented Mayor John Schultz.
    "The benefits far outweigh the concerns," remarked DRC member Larry Isch.
    DRC member Rex Hinsky said a TIF district is very important because new sources of revenue must be created. "You can't run a city on grants. That's no future," he said, noting that "we are just floundering out there" without a TIF district.    
Library board wants changes
    There's no tiff over TIF, but the seven members of the Adams Public Library Board are on record asking the Decatur Redevelopment Commission (DRC) to "redraw the proposed tax increment financing (TIF) district to a more reasonable size."
    The library board noted, in a lengthy letter read aloud at a DRC public hearing held Wednesday night at Decatur City Hall, that the TIF district, which has four geographic segments, includes "approximately 55 percent of the total net assessed valuation in Decatur" and "places an additional cap on future library and school revenues for the length of the plan."
    The letter went on to say, "The current district lines and the vast area in the proposed [TIF] district indicate a perversion of the original intent of TIFs. For one local entity to flourish, another should not have to suffer."
    The library board letter added, "When development occurs, all new business and industry tax revenue and any additional revenues from improved existing business and industry in the TIF district would be returned directly to the TIF" to be used by the DRC for local economic development purposes. "The resulting tax revenues will do little to help the school system, the library system, the [county] waste district, and the parks and recreation department."

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