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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 18, 2017

Jobs for the district

TIF can be used as an incentive for building improvements
By Xiomara Levsen | Mar 13, 2013
City clerk Lory Young and Councilor Kevin Kiene look at the Riverside TIF map while the other city council members discuss it.

RIVERSIDE — There were several topics discussed at Monday evening’s work session at Riverside City Hall. The first topic the council discussed was the tax increment funding (TIF).
“You need to set the objectives for TIF,” city administrator Rusty Rogerson said. “What do you want to accomplish? Make sure you identify the projects.”
Rogerson asked the council if they wanted to leave the districts as is or amend them and add another project to the TIF.
Rogerson said one example of how the TIF money could be used as a rebate for business owners to update their buildings downtown. Or they could use it as a way of purchasing buildings for green space, he said.
“Everything is included in the TIF except for the downtown,” Rogerson said.
Councilor Nate Kasdorf asked what would adding downtown to the TIF gain the city.
“My question and point is that we’ve had these grants,” Kasdorf said. “But I don’t see anybody applying for these grants. How is the TIF going to change that?”
Rogerson said TIF could be used as a rebate incentive to get owners of the downtown buildings to improve the exterior of those buildings.
“That doesn’t mean anybody’s going to do it,” Kasdorf said.
Rogerson said the issue with the grants is that a lot of the buildings downtown are rental properties. The tenants can’t apply for the grants because they don’t own the buildings.
Councilor Chris Kirkwood said she would like to see the sewer and the sidewalks downtown to be worked on.
Mayor Bill Poch said the discussion of what the council would like to have in the TIF starts at the work session.
“I think the vision for the community starts here,” Poch said. “It’s like the first step in TIF.”
Rogerson said again that the council needed to identify what projects they were going to work on using the TIF money. He also said the council could use some of the TIF money to hire a design firm to show the council what a community building downtown or up the hill would look like.
“The big plus would be that in the past nobody would fix their buildings up because they would see their taxes increase,” councilor Ralph Schnoebelen said. “We can use the TIF to lower their taxes for, say, 10 years, and maybe they would go ahead and fix their buildings up.”
Rogerson said another project that could be included in the downtown TIF would be to fix the sidewalks up.
Kirkwood said the visioning committee has spoken about the downtown sidewalks but the sewers would need to come first. She said that the sidewalks could have guardrails put installed.
City clerk Lory Young said she had a realtor call from Des Moines about a client who was looking to build a 20,000 square foot business. She said the TIF would be an incentive to get that client to buy land.
Rogerson said that he had received another call about the commercial property near the University of Iowa medical clinic. He said the zoning was too restrictive and the land was overpriced. Currently the zoning says that there has to be store- front.
“What do we want to accomplish?” Rogerson said. “Sometime you have to start thinking about the next fiscal year and capital improvements five to 10 years out.”
There was also discussion about the industrial park, which is already included in a TIF distict, and how many lots were left to sell. Poch said there were three available. Rogerson said adding projects to the TIF would bring interest to the area. He asked if adding the downtown as another district is what the council would like him to pursue.
“Yeah, I think we should,” councilor Ralph Schnoebelen said.
Other council members nodded their heads in agreement as Schnoebelen said this.
Rogerson said he would send the council a list for recommendations of new TIF districts. Also the council should think about projects they want to identify for the current TIF districts.

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