Should Decatur have a new TIF District? - Neighborhood revitalization to be discussed at city council meeting on February 10 at 5:30 PM
This Monday’s city council study session will discuss neighborhood revitalization initiatives and provide an update on the city annexation program. Revitalization topics will include changes to the city’s demolition policy to expedite the process, creation of multi-neighborhood community development corporations to buy and sell land, extending broadband through the urban core, discussion of strategies for use of newly purchased trustee lots, and discussion of a new TIF District in the city. Below are more details about some of these agenda items.
POSSIBILITY OF A NEW TIF DISTRICT – A new TIF District will be discussed. The district would extend west to Fairview Plaza, east to the railroad tracks past Clifton St., north to Waggoner St. and south to North St. (although not all properties within this area are proposed to be part of the district). The district would be adjacent to three current TIF districts: Grand Ave., Near North, and Old Towne.
TIF Districts can often be important economic development tools. However, according to the agenda packet “The Decatur TIFs have not been overly productive in new revenue generation for the City or their respective districts.” As one example, in 2018, the city transferred money from the water fund to support the underperforming Old Towne TIF
Furthermore, “TIFs are best utilized when there are organic property value increases across the board even without new investments.” This has not been the case in Decatur. Over the past 10 years, home values in Decatur have declined. According to Zillow.com, on February 2010, the median home value in the city was $81,400. In January 2020, the value was $76,178.
WHAT DO WE DO WITH THE NEWLY PURCHASED 726 MACON COUNTY TRUSTEE LOTS? – A year and a half since the city council committed to purchasing Macon County Trustee lots, the city has finalized the purchase of the 726 lots. Now that the lots have been purchased discussion will begin in earnest on the disposition of these lots including implementation of land bank and side lot programs.
BOLD AND ASPIRATIONAL ACTION FOR NEIGHBORHOOD REVITALIZATION IS LACKING – The topics that the council will be discussing on Monday are important ones and will advance our neighborhood revitalization initiative. However, it is unclear that these initiatives will be enough to reverse the rate of blight that is occurring in many neighborhoods within the city. In 2019, the city secured by boarding up 155 properties, declared 268 properties unfit for human habitation and issued over 1,000 nuisance violations. It would be helpful for the city staff to quantify our challenges (e.g., number of properties to be demolished or restored) and associated costs to better assist in decision making.
ANNEXATION – Beginning in 2019, the city began annexing all properties with water service agreements that become contiguous with the city or are surrounded by the city and less than 60 acres. Since the city began annexing properties, approximately 330 parcels have been annexed.
I have and will continue to support annexation. Annexation can increase the city’s equalized assessed value (EAV). Over a ten-year period, the city’s EAV decreased over $100 million from $928.5 million in 2009 to $824.5 million in 2018 (11% decrease). Simultaneously, property taxes collected increased 23% from $11.2 million in 2009 to $13.8 million in 2018. Without annexation in 2019, the city’s equalized assessed value may have gone down resulting in a higher tax rate in 2020 to fund the tax levy.
CITIZENS ARE ENCOURAGED TO ATTEND THE MEETING AND EXPRESS THEIR VIEWS - Meetings take place at the City Council Chamber located on the third floor of the Decatur Civic Center (1 Gary K. Anderson Place). Free parking is available in the lot immediately south of the entrance. Citizens are encouraged to attend, and 3 minutes per citizen will be allotted for public comment on the study session topics. An agenda to each city council meeting can be found at: https://www.decaturil.gov/mayor-and-council/council-meetings/