The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

November 28, 2012

TIF Commission delays vote but will go ahead with hearing

JOPLIN, Mo. — Joplin’s TIF Commission agreed Wednesday to delay its vote on the creation of a tax increment financing district in that area of the city hit by the May 22, 2011, tornado. That vote originally was set for Friday.

During a commission meeting, David Wallace, of Wallace Bajjali Development Partners, the city’s master developer for tornado recovery, outlined a proposal to alleviate school district costs that would come with enrollment growth if the TIF is successful in bringing in residential development to replace homes lost in the storm.

As planned, the commissioners will accept public comment and testimony on the proposal during a public hearing set for 6 p.m. Friday at City Hall.

They are expected to postpone their vote — which is a recommendation to the City Council — until Thursday, Dec. 6, and possibly even a week later. That will give the school district and Wallace Bajjali more time to work out an agreement to address the concerns of educators, and it also will give the commissioners more time to review the overall proposal.

If the TIF district is to take effect in 2012, the deadline for the commission to act is Dec. 14 because under state law, there must be a 14-day wait between the TIF Commission vote and final City Council action, according to City Attorney Brian Head. That would allow the council to meet by Friday, Dec. 28, and give its final nod to the plan.

Wallace has told school and city officials that if the TIF district is to be established using 2012 property valuations, the City Council must take action by Dec. 31. After Jan. 1, the TIF district would have to use 2013 property valuations, and Wallace said the city risks losing a portion of the $60 million in revenue that the TIF district is currently projected to generate.

The move to postpone the vote came Wednesday as questions were still being answered by the developer.

C.J. Huff, superintendent of Joplin schools and one of the two school district representatives on the commission, asked for a postponement of the vote. School board members unanimously recommended Tuesday night that Huff ask for the continuance, saying they required more time to analyze the information that was being given to them.

Doug Doll, chairman of the commission, also supported postponing the vote until next week.

“Personally, I don’t think I’m going to be ready to vote Friday, either,” Doll said.

The TIF district is being proposed by Wallace Bajjali to help pay for $806 million in residential and commercial redevelopment projects across most of the zone affected by the tornado. The TIF district also would extend to the downtown area. It is projected to generate up to $60 million in revenue over 23 years through increases in property taxes and a portion of sales taxes. The revenue would be diverted from existing taxing entities, such as the school district, the county and the road district, and back into development within the disaster zone.

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