A new state law has prodded an accounting of tax money generated and spent because of Allen County's use of an economic development tool known as tax increment financing districts, also known as TIFs.
The county's redevelopment commission presented the results from its 20 districts during what officials said was a first-of-its-kind public presentation Tuesday afternoon.
Scott Harrold, the commission's senior economic development specialist, said since the requirement passed last year in a special session of the legislature, the report will be required from commissions annually.
The aim is to promote “transparency,” he said.
“It's so everybody knows what we're doing,” he told The Journal Gazette after his presentation. “There are some districts (elsewhere in the state) that maybe abuse the tool, or people perceive it that way. I agree it's a good idea to have information available.”
TIF districts are areas set for commercial and industrial development and designed to lure businesses to locate there.
Businesses are granted a phase-in of taxes over several years, and taxes generated from the increases in the assessed value of their improvements are reinvested in infrastructure projects in their districts before the taxes go to all taxing bodies.
TIFs are intended to help fund infrastructure improvements for growth that would not otherwise occur.
Generally, the government borrows to fund the infrastructure projects up front and uses TIF money to pay off the loans.
Allen County's report indicates that just under $4 million will be spent on infrastructure from TIFs in 2019. The largest negative effects on other taxing bodies are to the county's major bridge and cumulative capital development funds. They are estimated together to have lost about $100,000 last year from all TIF districts.
Other taxing districts affected by losses include New Haven, the airport authority, and some fire protection districts.
Elissa McGauley, redevelopment director, said compiling the report showed three districts will probably be taken off the books shortly as debts are paid off and there is no current need.
The action could take place as soon as Thursday's redevelopment commission meeting, she said.
The county's report can be found the website of the Allen County Department of Planning Services – https://www.allencounty.us/department-of-planning-services – by clicking “Economic Development” on the left-side menu and “Reports” and selecting “ACRC Annual Report.” The information is in Appendix C.
McGauley said all the local government bodies affected were contacted about Tuesday's meeting. However, no one from those bodies – or the public – attended.