Central TIF Renewal Request
By Alex Saitta
October 13, 2011
The school district and county gave a TIF to the city of Central in 1996. That is, for a given area of Central, known as the TIF district, the city of Central was allowed to keep the school district tax revenue generated above the 1996 assessed level. Due to this agreement, between 1997 and 2010, $1.2 million in school district revenue from the Central area was given up by the district and given back to Central. As of 2010 that figure had grown to $150,000 annually.
Three months ago Central requested an extension of the TIF. The Superintendent said he didnít support it and said he doubted the board would vote for an extension. Dr. Hunt and myself met with the city of administrator about a two months ago, at their request. We listened to their reasoning, but I said I wouldnít support an extension, mainly because of the district's weak financial condition..
I then read an article in the Daily Journal Messenger where the Central administrator said he disagreed with the school districtís stance. He said, ďReject the TIF because itís a bad idea, not just because it is a TIF. We think this is a good idea thatís going to benefit the Central area and county residents.Ē
Actually in our meeting I didnít say the TIF was a bad idea. Really it depends how you look at it. For Central it is a great idea -- receive revenue from the county and school district to invest in your own town for 15 years.
It is a bad idea for the school district to continue to give away $150,000 a year in revenue when it doesnít have the money it needs to maintain all its new buildings; it had to borrow $4 million last Oct and November to meet payroll, it eliminated 60 positions this year and has cut 30 teaching positions the past two years, and added back only 6.5, so it has classes with 30+ students.
Plus the school district has done its part investing in the Central TIF area for 15 years.
Our board hasnít voted on the renewal request. The vote will be at the Monday, Oct 24th meeting. I donít know how the other members will vote. I believe it will not pass, but I know Iím going to vote against renewing the TIF.
I wrote this letter below in response to the article in the Daily Journal Messenger.
Thank you for your story concerning the renewal request of the Central TIF.
In 1996, the district agreed to the Central TIF. As terms of the agreement, between 1997 and 2010, $1.2 million in school district revenue from the Central area was given up by the district and given back to Central. As of 2010 that figure had grown to $150,000 annually. The district has helped Central out greatly the past 14 years.
In 1996 and the years that followed, the economy was strong and district revenue grew, so the district was in a position to sign on to the TIF. However, in 2011, the financial situation is much different. I donít think the school district can afford to give its tax revenue away. The district has eliminated positions the past 3 years and revenue has fallen 4 years in a row.
I understand the city has needs, including a new fire station and Rec Complex. The district has needs it must meet too. The district is adding 765,000 in new square footage from 2007 to 2013. The estimate is it will cost about $2 million to run, clean and repair that each year. We have allocated $578,000 so far. As of now, we donít have that extra revenue.
In sum, I can not vote to renew Central TIF and continue to give away school district revenue. I hope the officials of Central understand.