Tax Increment financing gets public hearing

By TAYLOR

MURCHISON-

GALLAGHER

STAFF WRITER

There was a public hearing, hosted by the City Council, on Wednesday, Aug. 15, regarding “Section 18-192 of the Bristol Code of Ordinances” and the creation of a Tax Increment Financing District, and “adopting the downtown Bristol TIF district master plan.”

The proposed TIF district is census tract number 4061, and would be comprised of approximately 360 acres.

It is a boot-shaped region that stretches from Route 6 to Centre Square, and juts out to include the Memorial Boulevard area.

Cheryl Thibeault, chair of the Board of Finance, shared that she had done some research regarding TIF, and while she agreed that the Bristol Development Authority needs to “have tools in the toolbox,” she found many cases where towns that had developed TIF districts, “found that they could have attracted those same businesses to their community” without having a TIF district.

“I’m a protector of our funding that benefits fire [department], police, schools, and so forth,” said Thibeault. “A TIF district allows the increases in the grand list, and the benefit from that, to stay in that area. And so what happens is that the balance of the taxpayers end up supplementing the cost associated… So, there’s a lot of cost that has historically been in these studies that the balance of the taxpayers had to pick up to make the city have those resources available, the TIF did not cover it all. And lastly, a couple of the communities that entered into TIF found their bond rating decreased, and as you know, I love to guard our bond rating – we have a very attractive and positive bond rating that has enabled us to get financing at significantly less interest rates.”

She also thought that the act of “picking winners and losers” could be “detrimental” to many of the “mom and pop businesses” in town, by showing favoritism to larger development projects.

Shawn Ruest said he had been following TIF since 2015, when it was first introduced to Connecticut. He feels that currently, there are “transparency issues” with how TIF is being presented to the public.

Justin Malley, executive director of the Bristol Development Authority, read a letter submitted by Brian Cich, chief operating officer of Rendina Healthcare Real Estate. Rendina is one of the partners in the Bristol Hospital Ambulatory Care Center being built on Centre Square.

Cich’s letter said “we are honored and very excited to be playing part of the revitalization of downtown Bristol,”and “adoption of the TIF district for downtown Bristol would be a further important signal from the city to developers that the city of Bristol is committed to realizing the goal of a thriving, vibrant, downtown Bristol.”

Therese Pac, City Clerk, said the letters have been made available online.

Comments? Email tmurchison@Bristol Observer.com.