By Sean Rice
The newly created Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district along West Bank Road could generate most of the estimated $1.5 million needed to build a mile-long boardwalk on Celina’s lakeshore.
Area officials and visiting public learned the basics of utilizing TIF income at an informational meeting Thursday night in the Central Services Building.
A TIF district does not increase any resident’s tax liability. It is a method of diverting a portion of regular property taxes into a fund dedicated to public improvements within the district.
Celina City Council created the 15-year arrangement in October, with city school board approval. It is estimated that at least $1.3 million can be generated during the length of the agreement.
When parcels within the TIF district increase in value, the corresponding increased tax payments are the funds that are redirected into the TIF district fund. In Celina’s agreement, 75 percent of the TIF collections are for district improvements and 25 percent go to Celina City Schools.
The district begins near the Celina lighthouse and runs north along West Bank Road, east of U.S. 127, ending before West Bank State Park.
Celina created the district in time to benefit from the new Westlake Village development. The new condominiums, rental villas and Romer’s Catering building were estimated to be a $9 million improvement. That improvement alone will bring in near $90,000 per year to the TIF fund, starting in 2005, city officials estimate.
Without figuring any further property value increases for West Bank Road for the next 15 years, $1.3 million will be generated by Westlake Village alone. The TIF fund increases whenever any parcel increases in value in the TIF district.
Celina City Council has not decided how to use the TIF funds yet. The money can be used for roads, public access, water, sewer or gas line work, land purchases and any other pubic improvement that benefits the district.
Residents have asked why the school system would allow taxes to be diverted in a time of financial struggle. Katie O’Conner of Seasongood & Mayer, Celina’s underwriter, said the $9 million improvement would increase the amount of wealth of the county overall.
When the county’s property tax income rises, the school system’s state funding level decreases. Creating a TIF basically shields the new income, and school funding levels aren’t affected. Celina City Schools will benefit from a cash payment of near $29,000 per year, city officials estimated.
Celina City Schools Treasurer Mike Marbaugh on Thursday said the district administration would support another TIF district, if Celina requested one.