Council OKs TIF plan for city’s downtown

By TAYLOR

MURCHISON-

GALLAGHER

STAFF WRITER

At its Sept. 11, the city council approved the Tax Increment Financing Downtown Bristol TIF District master plan.

Justin Malley, executive director of the Bristol Development Authority, explained that once a TIF district is set, a portion of “the incremental tax increases on real property” will be set aside “for reinvestment back into the district.”

Bristol’s TIF district is a boot-shaped region in downtown, spanning from Farmington Avenue, to South Street, encompassing the Memorial Boulevard area and the Riverside Ave., corridor.

“The incremental tax increases on real property – on buildings within that district, starting this fiscal year – 75% of those increases will be set aside for reinvestment back into the district,” said Malley. “The amount of taxes that are going to the general fund now within that district, based on the current value of property in the district, they’re going to continue to go to the general fund just as usual. Any increases associated with taxes with real property in the district in the future, 75% of those will be set aside for municipal projects.”

Municipal projects can refer to “streetscape work, acquiring blighted buildings and demolishing them, new road ways, maintenance on streetscapes,” according to Malley.

“But also, we’ll have the ability for the right projects to work with on commercial development, and to assist in some of those projects, if it makes sense from the policy makers perspective,” said Malley.

Before the vote was taken, councilor Mary Fortier, took a moment to explain that, “by approving this master plan tonight, we’re not approving any specific tax break to anyone.”

“This is a plan so that folks can apply to be in this program, and I just wanted to make that clear to anyone who is concerned about the fact that we’re giving somebody tax  breaks, and putting that money in a special pot and spending it,” said Fortier. “There isn’t any money in the pot yet, there isn’t even a project in the TIF master plan. The TIF master plan is just a tool that we may or may not be able to use, depending on projects that come along… When we do have a project coming forward that wants to be included in this, we will have meetings so folks can understand specifically what it’s going to mean for that project, and for how much money it will bring or be kept in a fund for the city.”

The joint board, comprised of city council and board of finance, also met Sept. 11.

The joint board approved a $415,000 transfer from the general fund contingency account. It will be used to cover the Board of Education end of school year deficit for the 2017-2018 year.

They approved a $1,162,718 transfer within the general fund to “closeout fiscal year 2017-2018.” Also approved were three FY 17-18 carryovers; first, “$3,990,794 within the General Fund,” “$5,490 within the Community Development Block Grant Fund,” and “$469,838 within the Sewer Operating and Assessment Fund.”

City comptroller, Diane Waldron, gave her monthly report. As only two months have passed in this fiscal year, Waldron said, “there’s really nothing of concern.”

She reported that “nothing came down from the state,” regarding cuts to grants, and, “everything is coming in as we expected right now on the revenue side with state grants.”

“I know last month I did talk about that we were looking at doing a bond sale. We did spend a lot of time, my office, on going through all of our capital projects, and we’re trying to schedule a CIP [Capital Improvements Project] meeting next week to try to review some of the capital projects,” said Waldron. “We’re looking to close out a lot and we actually, originally were looking at about a $30 million bond issue, we are now looking at a $22.425 [million] tax exempt issue, along with a $7.9 million taxable issue, which we had talked about during the budget process.”

Waldron reported that the bond sale is scheduled for Oct. 11 and her office will be meeting with rating agencies in early October. She also said that the auditor will return to the city near “the end of October.”