City given green light to pursue TIF changes

South Bend Tribune (IN), 2014-08-29


Aug. 29 -- SOUTH BEND -- The Redevelopment Commission on Thursday approved a series of resolutions realigning the various tax increment finance districts in the city to better meet current and future economic development needs.

The resolutions now move to the Area Plan Commission and Common Council for consideration before returning to the Redevelopment Commission for final approval in October.

The proposed realignment would expand or consolidate some TIF districts while retiring others, releasing millions of dollars in assessed value to local taxing units such as schools and libraries.

Most notably, the South Bend Central Development Area would be split between the Airport Economic Development Area and the Northeast Neighborhood Development Area.

The vote was 5-1, with commission member Valerie Schey , a member of the Common Council , opposed.

"I'm just concerned about the expansion of the area captured by TIF," Schey said.

The realignment would increase the total amount of TIF area in the city from about 9,100 acres to more than 9,800 acres, or about 37 percent of the city.

Even so, the percentage of assessed value captured by TIF would change little under the plan, less than three-tenths of 1 percent, Executive Director of Community Investment Scott Ford said.

That may change, of course, as new development occurs in the expanded area.

Ford also had to defend the timeline for approval of the changes.

"I think the timeline is a little bit aggressive, because this is probably going to generate more questions than you will be able to answer, even with your best attempts," commission member Dave Varner , another member of the Common Council , said.

"I will echo Dr. Varner's comments about the timeline," Schey said."There's a lot of research (associated) with considering this type of change."

Ford said the timeline was established in order to adopt the changes before the end of the budget season.

"We're committed to answering all questions," he added.

In other business Thursday:

--The commission agreed to pay Lawson-Fisher Associates $562,050 for engineering work related to a proposed roundabout at South Michigan Street and Chippewa Avenue .

The roundabout is part of a larger project to convert Main and Michigan streets from one-way to two-way, planning director Jitin Kain said.

The money will come out of the South Side Tax Increment Finance Fund .

--The commission entered into an agreement with the University of Notre Dame for the purchase of $5.5 million worth of equipment to be used at the school's new Turbomachinery Laboratory at Ignition Park .

Under the terms of the agreement, the commission will purchase the equipment upfront using tax increment finance funds and then lease it back to the university for $2.75 million over 10 years.

The agreement requires that Notre Dame prepay the $2.75 million lease amount. It also allows the school to purchase the equipment for $1 provided it meets certain employment requirements.

The new $36 million laboratory is expected to create 57 new jobs with an average hourly wage of between $18 and $28 per hour.

eblasko@sbtinfo.com

@ErinBlasko

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