The Athens City Council voted April 26 to begin the process on what may become the city's third tax increment financing district, to be located in the area north and south of Bojangles.
According to City Planner Matt Davidson, city staff have identified an area off U.S. 72 between Interstate 65 and Swan Creek that has seen some “commercial disinvestment.” He said these properties have not really evolved, so some capital improvements are being proposed in order to try and help jumpstart development in the area.
Davidson said a TIF district would be set up to help recover some of the money put into the improvements for those areas.
“This is a proposal that would begin a process to result in the City having a third TIF district,” City Attorney Shane Black said. “It does not approve it yet. It sets it on a process that will result in a public hearing in front of y'all next month. That is where you would actually decide whether or not to create a new TIF district.”
According to Black, TIF District No. 3 wold involve the general area from south of Bojangles on U.S. 72 and north of Athens-Limestone Drive on the other side of U.S. 72 all the way to Forrest Street.
“That area in there is not developed, and what the TIF would do is … if the city looks at certain types of highway improvement projects and it results in economic growth in that area, by setting up the TIF, the City would capture any gain on property taxes over a period of time, which the City has typically set at 20 years, in order to help pay the City back for spending money on those capital projects.”
Black specified setting up a TIF district does not raise taxes.
“If the City is going to spend money on capital improvements on this area, if there is new development that results in an increase in property taxes, that increase would be paid to City to repay for money spent in that area,” he said.
Black used the former Pilgrim's Pride property as an example, as it was the first TIF district set up by the City of Athens. He said the area was blighted, and the City acquired the property and tore down the blight.
“Arguably, as a result of the actions taken, there has been development to the east, and there looks to be more in the area,” he said. “At least some of those developments would not have occurred if the City had not done what it did.”
Black said setting up a TIF district is a way to help a city recoup money over the long-term.
“It may not capture it all, but if you don't set up a TIF, you won't capture any of it,” he said.
City Clerk Annette Threet said $5,000 has been collected from the TIF District set up at the former Pilgrim's Pride property so far.
“It is a slow trickle,” she said.
The resolution to start the new TIF district process said improvements to the area may include sidewalk extensions, lighting at U.S. 72 and an intersection improvement at the intersection of U.S. 72 and Braly Boulevard.
The Council passed the resolution unanimously.