Thursday May 23, 2013
As the legislative session came to a close last week, one bill of particular interest to South Burlington was approved by the House and Senate regarding SB’s proposed Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District.
“This was very important to the future of City Center as it clears the way for the Vermont Economic Progress Council (VEPC) to approve the City’s TIF District as the 7th TIF,” Project Director Ilona Blanchard said.
The TIF District application was initially submitted to the legislature on August 28 at 8 am; the morning after the City Council held a public hearing and approved the TIF District Plan. The TIF District plan the City submitted builds off the public community visioning workshops which were held in 2011, “which really changed the complexion of the plan to emphasize a more holistic approach to building a downtown, ” Ilona Blanchard said.
According to the TIF application, “A TIF district is one of the few state programs to stimulate economic growth that is available directly to municipalities. A TIF District plan, once adopted by the City and approved by VEPC clears the path to allow the District to retain 75% of the increase in education tax revenue generated within the boundaries (of the district) over a twenty year period. After a positive vote, by the legal voters of the city, these revenues may be used to finance the improvements discussed in the plan.”
Additionally, the bill approved by the House and Senate also contains improvements to the TIF District program, including expanding the time during which financing may be accessed (reducing borrowing costs). It allows the City to use financing to build public facilities such as a library, recreation center, or city hall. The legislation also enables the State to develop rules and regulations so that there is no confusion over interpretation of the legislation going forward. “The bill still needs to be signed by the Governor, but as the Administration worked extensively on the bill, this is expected to occur in June,” Blanchard said.
“Although VEPC still needs to approve the application, we’ve had several very positive meetings with them and they have nearly completed their review. Lots of steps left, i.e. we still need to plan and engineer everything, get voter approval, etc, but these are all City decisions and not State dependent” Blanchard commented.
The bill was bolstered by support from the entire Chittenden County delegation and Senator Tim Ashe, who wrote the legislation and shepherded it through his committee - the Finance Committee. The Vermont Chamber, Lake Champlain Chamber, Local Motion, and the Vermont League of Cities and Towns also reached out on behalf of South Burlington.
You can view the City’s TIF District Plan in its entirety via the City webpage: www.sburl.com.
SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent