City puts new TIF district on hold pending paperwork

     A plan to create 32 acres of a new tax increment financing district in Columbia City will have to wait until the next city council meeting.
     The council was poised to approve the new TIF district Tuesday until council members discovered they did not have the resolution they needed to confirm.
     The city’s redevelopment commission approved the resolution at its meeting earlier in the day, but signed copies were unavailable for the city council because of a family emergency of a redevelopment commission member.
     The issue will come back to the council at its Sept. 28 meeting, unless a special meeting is held earlier.
     The area south of U.S. 30 and east of Lincolnway was recently rezoned to light industrial use to try to attract a medical device manufacturing company.
     The city council on Tuesday designated the land as an economic revitalization area so any business that qualifies can apply for tax abatements.
     “It would encourage a company to invest in equipment and create jobs,” Whitley County Economic Development Corporation President Alan Tió said the land being an ERA.
     As for the TIF district designation for the land, city redevelopment commission president Carl Siler said the land would be a TIF district for 25 years.
     “Unless we do have a TIF, those people aren’t going to come in the first place,” Siler said of possible development on the land.
     Although property taxes paid for improvements to the land after its designation as TIF district would be diverted to pay for infrastructure and other improvements at the site, Siler said the city and county would benefit from income taxes from the businesses’ employees.
     Without a TIF district, Siler feels the city would lose an advantage in the “very competitive” world of site selection.
     “That sort of brands us as being anti-development,” he said.
     Early estimates on utility installation and road work at the site are about $675,000, according to Columbia City Mayor Jim Fleck.
     “We recover that revenue without having to borrow it,” he said of the utility revenue to the city from any development.
     Tax revenue from the TIF district above the land’s base value before it was designated as a TIF district can only be used for certain improvements in that district.
     “You can’t have a private benefit. It has to be a public interest,” Fleck said.