City Leaders Look for Way to Reel in Downtown Developers

6 years 1 week 4 days ago Tuesday, February 11 2014 Feb 11, 2014 Tuesday, February 11, 2014 3:13:00 PM CST February 11, 2014 in News
By: Nick Thompson, KOMU 8 Reporter

COLUMBIA - Columbia's Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Commission met Tuesday to tackle a controversial proposal aimed at thawing a freeze on downtown development.

City Manager Mike Matthes called for a freeze on any new development in downtown Columbia recently, saying the downtown sewer and electric infrastructure is at capacity.

Several student housing developers are ready to tackle new projects downtown, but need capable infrastructure to start building.

Matthes and city administration would like to make downtown a TIF district. TIF would freeze the portion of sales and property tax revenue that goes from downtown businesses to local taxing entities like the Boone County government and Columbia Public Schools.

TIFs are created with the assumption new development will increase economic activity, which will, in turn, create additional tax revenue.

The level at which the city freezes revenues is called the base. Any additional revenue above the base would go into a city fund to pay for infrastructure projects.

City administration has marketed TIF as a way to keep downtown booming without a tax hike.

Boone County leaders are suing the city for pushing a TIF district.

Opponents have said TIF diverts tax revenue that would otherwise fund services.

City councilman Karl Skala told the Columbia Daily Tribune Sunday he would prefer an increase in developer fees. The city could also raise utility rates or issue bonds.

The TIF commission has to approve a TIF proposal and recommend it to the city council.

The commission was expected to lay out a timeline for passing a TIF at Tuesdays meeting.

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