Mr. Willard opened the discussion by stating that it is the 20th year into this project and he would like to hear comments/questions.
Mr. Shonkwiler inquired of the adoption of this URA plan before any current Commissioner joined the Board. Mr. Hughes and Mr. Rees were involved at the time. He also inquired if the plan specified that the URA should be taking property tax and/or sales tax increment at this point. Also, was there a special district? If yes, what is the mill levy? (10.000 mills for O&M and 30.000 mills for Debt Service).
Mr. Willard continued by stating that on a reimbursement basis, there were no public bonds issued. All capital invested has been private capital. This unique project area will revitalize downtown and will really be an asset. There has been interest from multiple parties of public companies. The environment is right for retail commercial areas. He also stated that there is still a lot of work to be done before the Developers get reimbursed. The difficulty is that businesses all want incentives and we are not inclined to give in to them. Rick Butler was the architect and he believed this is an unusual property and has potential to grow. The URA includes the residential area. The reimbursement schedule for the residential area was written in with a place holder for the commercial area. The redevelopment agreement anticipates a 2nd phase. This next phase took awhile as the project slowed down in 2005 due to the economic recession.
Mr. Raughton inquired if we are talking about a new plan and what the proposal is for. Are there any big box stores coming in such as Wal-mart, Costco, etc.? He also inquired if this is a different commercial structure of an existing design.
Mr. Shonkwiler inquired if the Developers are planning to sell any amount of the property. His understanding was that Mr. Willard is proposing a different reimbursement plan – not only the property tax increment but also sales tax increment. How are we going to fix the City’s problems now that they have to split funds? The City’s general fund will be diverted elsewhere. He would like to bring up the subject early in the process before it goes too far. We need to address the issue of the dollar amount and how to deal with City’s general fund? He also would like to see the entire plan – need to have all information available instead of phase by phase.
Mr. Neville explained that the property is owned by GHM partners. The existing URA already has been collecting property tax TIF, which had started when the original GHM Urban Renewal Plan was approved. The sales tax TIF is to be addressed with City Council later as part of the adoption of the new URA.
Mr. Neville stated that the feasibility study will address the County impact.
Mr. Raughton was supportive of the idea to conduct the Conditions study.
Mr. Hughes stated that the URA had addressed an environmentally blighted area. It started off with a residential phase 1 and anticipated to complete with a commercial site. There are many issues out there other than just another development.
Mr. Neville stated that sales tax TIF has to go through City Council for approval, not CSURA. There are different percentages of sales tax increment that can be approved. Ricker Cunningham will run some numbers based on the assumptions for the feasibility study. He also indicated that he has not heard what level of increment might be approvable by Council.
Ms. Bartow indicated that Board authorization is required to proceed with the condition study. Board approval is needed today.
Mr. Schriner inquired of projecting sales tax figures. The impact report should be the 1st initial step at the process.
Mr. Neville stated that the cost of condition study is $25,000. It’s important to restart the TIF clock. One of the alternatives is to use the existing plan and go through City Council to restart the clock on the entire area. No percentage of sales tax TIF was listed in the original plan, which has already been approved by the City. We just have to go through the City Council.
Mr. Shonkwiler stated that all issues should be resolved before the decision to start the project. This project needs to move forward without another 10-year delay.
Ms. Bartow indicated that the feasibility study will be the 1st step in getting started.
Mr. Shonkwiler stated that it is important to get the redevelopment and financing agreement established before doing any studies.
Mr Neville stated that the Developers will use their own funds for the conditions study.
Mr. Raughton expressed his support of the study of the new URA based on the environmental condition. We will get answers from the studies.
Mr. Willard addressed that Hwy 24 is a bottleneck. The bridge will need to be widened for better traffic flow. The bridge over Hwy 24 will be paid for by the Developers. He also indicated that a few years ago, one of the Commissioners came to a GHM Board meeting and was provided a tour around the area. It is important to understand and see the property with your own eyes.
Ms. Hunter liked the idea of the tour around the project area. She agreed that it is important to understand what is going on in the area.
Mr. Neville invited the public to comment on this agenda item #5. Each person may speak for 3 minutes or less.
Public Comment #1 Bill Murray addressed the concern of not having access to the documentation on the website. The general interest should be the bigger picture. He inquired of when the bridge is going to be completed and who will be paying.
Mr. Willard indicated that the bridge will be constructed and paid by the Developers.
Motion to authorize the preparation of the new conditions study as well as require that a preliminary proforma be prepared that will identify the need for the use of tax increment financing in order for the development to be viable – Motion by Ms. Palermo. Second by Ms. Hunter. Motion passed 6-0 with Mr. Schriner abstaining.