North county deal what redevelopment is for
December 19, 2006
The issue of economic development in the county’s redevelopment zone undertaken by the county’s redevelopment agency has been the subject of recent news articles and letters to the editor.
The redevelopment agency was created to produce economic diversity, stimulate the creation of new and higher paying jobs, while not increasing taxes to existing property owners and residents. The Target-Home Depot area in north Douglas County was the first such venture which still continues adding new buildings, businesses, jobs, and new revenue to the county and has proven this kind of investment by the RDA most worthwhile for all the taxpayers of Douglas County.
The next successful venture is maturing with the second north county development of the commercial activities from Best Buy to Wal-Mart with dozens of new businesses, new commercial buildings, banks, and more job creation … And yes, more and new sources of taxes.
The proposed new commercial expansion across Highway 395 from Wal-Mart looks equally promising for more sales tax generating businesses. The RDA is able to attract these many new businesses by committing future property taxes which are generated only by these new businesses. These funds originate only from the property taxes paid by the land/building owners based on performance. Where performance is successful, then and only then, can the owner expect some return of previously paid-in property taxes.
Such a reimbursement formula allows the owners to invest millions of dollars during the commercial construction phases and build-out of their project and to pay-in new property taxes. Once the new development begins earning its way by generating new revenue dollars for the county, then and only then, can the performance formula begin.
The RDA, by formula, can reimburse these owners in future years, only a portion of their paid-in taxes and can not pay back more than the RDA has received in property taxes from these property owners. No other residents or landowners are taxed. This venture is totally at the financial risk of the owner/developers of the commercial development. The county has no liability.
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It is most important to observe neither the county nor the RDA invest any upfront money. This is the developer/owners responsibility. Any return of previously paid-in property taxes will be rebated annually over many years and is based on the owner-developer exceeding negotiated performance objectives set by the RDA. No performance, no rebate. No risk for the county, no risk for the RDA nd no risk for Douglas County taxpayers. And, only when successful, is the RDA allowed to then reward the successful ventures through a partial return of property taxes paid in by them.
What such economic expansion and diversification accomplishes is multi-faceted in its benefits to existing tax payers. These new sources of revenue help keep existing Douglas County taxes the second lowest in the state. The RDA is investing only up to the amount of taxes paid in and is limited to a maximum rebate over time. Future taxes collected once re-imbursement has been achieved in years 15-20 for example, those paid-in taxes then flow to both the state and county treasury’s.
Redevelopment is an effective tool for our county to capture sales and other taxes that have historically traveled north to Carson City, Reno and elsewhere. As in the cases of Target-Home Depot, Best Buy-Wal-mart, these taxes are collected in the county to support county services, schools, law enforcement, towns and some 27 of our general improvement districts … and are at no cost to the Douglas County taxpayers.
I support this kind of effective thinking by the county commissioners. Their execution will continue serving to keep our taxes amongst the lowest in the state. Future new taxes derived from these successful ventures have been an effective way of keeping citizen taxes low and fully justify the RDA entering into these kinds of mutually beneficial partnerships.
n Don Miner is a Gardnerville resident and former Douglas County commissioner.