By Sean Rice
The Celina administration's plan to create five new tax increment financing (TIF) districts says it could generate millions of dollars for development during the next 30 years without increasing residents' tax burdens.
By placing specific properties in TIF zones, a portion of property tax payments from those properties are redirected into a fund earmarked for improvements in the TIF zone.
When explaining the latest TIF plan, consultant Kent Bryan told a Celina City Council committee Friday of the "huge potential" that can be reaped from the districts.
If city council and Celina City Schools board of education approve of the TIF plans, more than $400,000 could be generated annually for varied projects across the city.
The 15-year TIF district created last year along West Bank Road is expected to generate about $90,000 per year, due to the new Westlake Village housing development which is increasing property values in the area. Bryan laid out a plan Friday that seeks to expand the West Bank Road district to a 30-year TIF and extent the district north to include downtown Celina.
City officials have said the West Bank Road TIF money, when it starts flowing next year, will be used to bring a boardwalk to the lakeshore.
If the new TIF districts are approved across the city, Bryan said money can be generated to help: pay off the Grand Lake Industrial Park; widen Grand Lake Road; at-tract downtown revitalization grants; improve drainage along state Route 29 west; improve the area along state Route 703; and redevelop the former Mersman factory site into a residential neighborhood.
Bryan said Rockford Construction Services, owners of the Mersman site on Wayne Street, are nearly done with an environmental assessment and are learning the site is free of hazardous contamination. RCS has already announced plans to use the huge building as a "incubator" for small businesses.
Friday, Bryan said RCS was "very receptive" to the idea of demolishing the Celina landmark and plotting residential sites. Bryan said TIF dollars possibly could be used in the future to help the company demolish the plant, which would be a major expense in creating a new neighborhood.
"The good news is it's not contaminated, the bad news is it's not contaminated," Bryan said of the Mersman site, pointing out that a contaminated site easily attracts state grants.
A new TIF district that includes the Wal-Mart relocation property could fund widening Grand Lake Road and other areas of im-provement. A downtown TIF could provide matching money for a $400,000 revitalization grant to fix up buildings.
Along state Route 703, the new Windemere Bay housing development could fund a TIF district. Those funds could be used to "entice" the owners of a neighboring trailer park to redevelop.
"The funds don't have to be spent in the geographic area of the TIF," Bryan pointed out.
Money generated in TIF zones could be combined to pay for something benefiting all TIF zones, such as a new fire department.
Celina City Council is considering a batch of ordinances to create the districts at their 6 p.m. meeting tonight.