2nd year in a row, F’ville wants voters to OK redevelopment tax

If the first tax dies at the polls, wait a year and try it again, the Fayetteville City Council has decided.

The council on Feb. 17 gave the go-ahead for a process they hope will lead to redevelopment projects in portions of the city. Similar to the Tax Allocation District (TAD) measure defeated by voters 53-47 percent just last year, city staff said this time around the initiative could have a project identified prior to the referendum.

City Manager Joe Morton in a letter to the council said utilizing the state Redevelopment Powers Law would provide the city with an economic development tool that can assist in redeveloping some of the city’s older commercial areas.

With the resolution adopted by the council last week, the next step in the process is to have local legislation approved by the General Assembly. Rep. Virgil Fludd (D-Tyrone) has agreed to introduce that legislation, Morton said.

“The main difference between this resolution and the one that was approved last year is that this resolution provides the council with the flexibility to conduct the referendum anytime (on state approved election dates) on or before the national election in 2012,” Morton said. “This should provide the city with the time necessary to build public support for the issue and the flexibility to move forward on the referendum sooner should a viable project present itself.”

Mayor Ken Steele on Monday said that unlike the general purpose approach utilized last year for the TAD vote, the city today hopes to have a specific project identified prior to a vote at the polls.

Steele also noted that, as with the TAD proposal, the Fayette County Commission and Fayette County Board of Education would have to approve the project.

The TAD redevelopment issue on the July 20, 2010 ballot was defeated 52.87 percent to 47.13 percent, or 1,168 votes to 1,041. The redevelopment measure would have essentially given the city the ability to try to move ahead with projects in blighted, distressed or deteriorating areas such as the 692 Shopping Center and the Fayette Place Shopping Center, both located on North Glynn Street, and potentially the Market Place at Lafayette, an undeveloped portion of the Villages at Lafayette development situated along Ga. Highway 54.

The initiative last year was not a new tax, but rather a diversion of increases in fair market value in a specific geographic area to be used for redevelopment purposes. Financing for a TAD comes as the tax base for the project area is frozen to form a base valuation. The county and school board would continue to receive taxes based on the base valuation while the taxes from any incremental increase in value of the property would go toward eligible infrastructure and other project-affiliated redevelopment costs.

Such redevelopment projects, at least in terms of increasing property tax revenues, take a long-term view of those revenues. While the county commission and school board would agree to forego the incremental increase in property taxes on the designated property during the redevelopment period, those tax levying entities would benefit down the road, after the property is redeveloped, because the value of the redeveloped property would have a higher value and would generate more property taxes than would have been generated if the site had not been redeveloped, tax supporters say

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