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Redevelopment agency could benefit everyone

Michael Hayes

The concept of a Douglas County Redevelopment Agency was proposed to the planning commission last Thursday and, from what I heard, I think it could benefit everyone in the county – taxpayers and businesses alike. You need to make up your own mind and give input when we present it to the public.

Is this going to raise our taxes? As a fixed income homeowner, I was very concerned about this. The answer was “no!” Redevelopment pays for itself by generating revenue from increased ad valorem tax monies from specific properties that directly benefit from the redevelopment assistance. Without redevelopment, a structure’s assessed value decreases with age. As the assessed value drops, so does the ad valorem tax it generates. As the ad valorem tax revenue drops, the county needs to find replacement funds or lower the levels of services and infrastructure it provides to the general public.

Redevelopment increases the assessed value of property in decline while improving the visual image of the target area. Businesses should like the idea because it offers an opportunity to upgrade structures and infrastructure so that a blighted area can be revitalized to help the business attract customers, stimulate economic growth, increase sales tax revenues, even attract new businesses to the area and create new jobs. Taxpayers should be pleased because the increased ad valorem revenue will help maintain current levels of service without the need for new revenue streams.

A Citizen’s Advisory Panel (CAP) helps to identify the goals of a redevelopment project like: Encourage vitality of commercial uses within a target area; establish focal points; improve the visual image of the area; establish mass transit nodes; create additional affordable housing options.

A consultant may work with the CAP and planning commission and the agency to create a preliminary plan.

The agency and the planning commission must cooperate in the selection of areas and preparation of plans. The Board of County Commissioners can act as the Redevelopment Agency or appoint one.

An official redevelopment plan is prepared and adopted per Nevada Revised Statute.

The contents of the plan are found in NRS 279.572 and generally contain the following: Amount of open space and layout of streets, limits on type, size, height, number and proposed use of buildings, the approximate number of dwelling units, the property devoted to public process, method of financing the plan. Sufficient detail must be provided so that the legislative body may determine the economic feasibility of the plan.

Public hearings on the plan are held per NRS 279.580.

The redevelopment plan is adopted by ordinance with specific findings per NRS 279.586.

n Financing: The agency may borrow from federal, state, or private sources for financing. After the agency is formed, the county may make grants or loans to the agency to defray administrative expenses. The agency must prepare an annual budget. Funds may be obtained through: general obligation bonds, agency bonds, revenue bonds, income or revenue from certain redevelopment projects, federal or state assistance, and general government appropriations or grants.

n Tax increment financing: The bonds are repaid from proceeds of tax increment financing. Incremental increased taxes which result from higher assessed valuation are used to provide the debt service for the bonds. No indebtedness may be incurred after 20 years from the date of formation of the agency and any securities issued must mature prior to the expiration of the agency (30 years). Agency bonds may only be backed by the full faith and credit of the county upon voter approval.

n TIF district: Tax assessments from new projects in the area are used to pay the debt service on agency bonds which finance the needed public improvement projects and may provide a source of financing for public-private partnership projects.

n Tax effects: As market values of property in the TIF area increase as a result of properties being improved and blight being removed, the difference between the taxes collected at the formation of the TIF area and the taxes collected after the TIF area is established and new projects built, the incremental difference is used to pay-off bonds which financed the redevelopment improvements.

Pardon my techno-babble, but I hope this will stimulate discussion in the community so when we bring the proposal to the public, you will have had time to formulate some opinions. Some areas of successful redevelopment I like are Sparks’ Victorian Station, and The City of South Lake Tahoe. If you have a chance, take a look at these areas to get an idea of what can be done.

Editor’s note: Michael Hayes is a Gardnerville resident and member of the Planning Commission.