The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

December 26, 2012

Joplin City Council to consider TIF plan at special meeting Friday

A special meeting of the Joplin City Council has been scheduled for Friday for the panel to consider ordinances that would establish a tax increment financing district and authorize associated tornado recovery projects.

The council will meet at 12:15 p.m. at City Hall.

The TIF proposal would create a 3,000-acre district in the center of the city encompassing the tornado zone and downtown. Future increases in property taxes and a portion of the sales tax revenue from that district would be directed to tornado redevelopment projects.

David Wallace, chief executive officer of Wallace-Bajjali Development Partners, the city’s contracted master developer, has said the district would capture $57 million in tax revenues that would be used to secure bond indebtedness to help finance some of the tornado recovery projects.

The 11-member Joplin TIF Commission involving representatives of the city, the Joplin School District, Jasper County and the Joplin Special Road District voted unanimously Dec. 14 to send the plan to the City Council with the commission’s recommendation for approval.

The commission vote came after about two months of discussions about the effect the proposal would have on the other taxing entities besides the city and ways to ease that impact, including payments to the school district.

An agreement signed with the school district that day makes a number of provisions intended to offset the financial implications to the district because the TIF district generally will freeze a portion of the school district’s property tax base.

The agreement requires:

• A $13 million payment to the school district three years into the TIF plan to cover revenue losses experienced from the frozen tax levels.

• Paying a $1.4 million shortfall that may be experienced in school rebuilding costs.

• Providing a payment of $1,415 per student, which increases 1.5 percent a year in future years, for enrollment increases that occur as a result of the redevelopment beyond the district’s pre-tornado level of 7,793 students.

• Paying $2,509 per student for increased enrollment that results in a need to build more schools. That money is to be held in reserve and paid back to the TIF district if school construction is not necessary.

The agreement also limits the duration of the TIF district to 23 years, protects the school district’s levy and any future levy increases, and keeps the TIF district from being enlarged. The developer and the city also are obligated to help find a way to finance school construction or increase the school district’s bonding capacity if more space is needed as a result of the redevelopment and the district has to finance construction. The school district, with the passage in April 2012 of a $62 million bond issue for school rebuilding, is near its bonding capacity.

Several people testified in favor of the TIF proposal during a public hearing that the TIF Commission wrapped up on Dec. 14.

Tom Kaleko, senior vice president of Springsted Inc., a public sector advisory firm, testified that his firm looked at the assumptions and financial factors in the TIF proposal and concluded that it would support the $57 million cited by Wallace.

School Superintendent C.J. Huff spoke in favor of the plan and its underlying agreements. In reference to the status of tornado recovery, Huff said, “We are where we are today because of a lot of hard work and trust” that should continue in finishing the plan. “We look forward to the outcome of this work.”

In other business Friday, the council will consider an ordinance that approves the TIF projects and designates the city’s Joplin 353 Redevelopment Corp. as the developer of them.

Wallace said at the Dec. 14 meeting that if the City Council approves the TIF proposal, land acquisition and project start-up work would begin in the first quarter of 2013.

The council also will conduct final readings on uncontested rezoning requests advanced at its Dec. 3 meeting. Those are for properties at 2221 N. Florida Ave.; at 3003, 3015 and 3023 S. Connecticut Ave.; at the southeast corner of 20th Street and Connecticut Avenue; and at 1934 Murphy Boulevard.

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