Wednesday, March 7, 2012

TIF District Policies to be Scrutinized

Monday night also saw the unanimous passage of Prop 70, a proposal by Councillor Brian Mahern to form a commission to study TIF Districts in Marion County and report back to the Council with policy recommendations.

Not all appointments are yet known, but of the 8 study commission members, the Chair will be Councillor Steve Talley, with Councillor Brian Mahern, County Auditor Billie Breax, City Controller Jeff Spaulding, and Bond Bank Executive Director Deron Kintner as members.  Still to be named is one member of the Republican caucus of the Council, one member of the Metropolitan Development Commission, and one member of the Indiana General Assembly.

You can view Councillor Mahern's comments to the Metropolitan & Economic Development Committee of the Council by clicking here and moving to time stamp 1:21:00.

Briefly, though, he said that there are 30 TIF districts in Marion County, with a combined debt of about $1 billion.  These TIFs have taken in hundreds of millions of property tax dollars.  Although they are initially set up for a 30 year term, refinancing of the underlying bonds has caused extensions of their terms.  All of this is without a comprehensive view of how TIFs perform and how they affect other property tax revenues - especially the impact of tax caps on revenues received by the different units of government.  The commission is expected to issue an interim report by April 30 and a final report by June 30.

In what may be a coordinated effort, the two pending expansions of existing TIF districts (Prop 15 and Prop 16) have been tabled by the Metro & Econ Devel Committee.  It would, indeed, be better to understand TIF districts and how to safeguard the taxpayers as well as actual economic development, before moving forward with these extensions of TIFs.

Meetings of the commission will be public and public testimony will be taken.  More on the schedule once it is available.

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