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08-07-04 Celina plans expansion of TIF districts

By Sean Rice

  Celina officials are considering creating five more tax increment financing (TIF) districts to help accumulate money to redevelop areas in the city.

  The city's first TIF district was created last year on West Bank Road and is expected to raise more than $1 million over the next 15 years through improvements and new development.
  Creating a TIF district does not increase anyone's tax bill. The state-approved procedure redirects a portion of regularly paid property taxes into a special fund for improvements in the district.
  When creating a TIF district, a number of properties are selected to be included, and the property tax values of the parcels are recorded. Over the life of the TIF district, any increases in property tax payments are moved into a TIF account.
  All property values are reevaluated by the county at least every three years. When improvements are made and a property's value increases, so does the property tax bill. If such a property is in a TIF district, the increases in property taxes due are set aside in a TIF fund. The funds set aside are then used to make improvements to that TIF district, such as infrastructure upgrades.  The TIF district on West Bank Road stretches from the lighthouse to the new Westlake Village condominiums. After the TIF was created, the value of the Westlake property increased greatly because it went from bare land to a nearly $9 million development.
  Aside from any other future property value increases in the district, nearly $90,000 is expected to be generated annually in TIF money from the new property taxes paid by Westlake's owners.
  A city council committee voted Friday to approve a plan presented by development consultant Kent Bryan to create five more districts. The new districts would include the new industrial park off state Route 29, the former Mersman factory site, downtown Celina, the west edge of the city on state Route 29 and along state Route 703 including the Windemere Bay development.
  Bryan explained that specific improvements are planned or underway that would benefit each district. They include the Wal-Mart relocation, West Bank Road improvements, Mersman building improvements, a Celina Tent expansion and Windemere Bay. The downtown Celina TIF area would connect to the current West Bank Road district.
  On Monday, city council will consider a batch of 10 ordinances necessary to create the new TIF districts.
  Celina City Schools Board of Education also needs to approve each TIF district. Bryan said he discussed the plans already with district administration and the school board president. Committee members pointed out that school districts benefit from TIF arrangements because the district receives 25 percent of the TIF account. Also, the school district's state funding is not negatively affected.
  "It is a way you keep the tax dollars local and reinvest it locally and attract jobs," Bryan said. "A taxpayer won't see the difference."


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