Monday, September 19, 2016

What you may not know: Week of September 19

The Appleton Common Council will meet for our regularly scheduled full council meeting on Wednesday night, but we have a busy week of special meetings between now and then:

Appleton Redevelopment Authority, Tuesday, 10 am

On Tuesday the Appleton Redevelopment Authority has been called to review and consider approval of a development agreement for the former Foremost Dairy site along the Fox River, just south of the College Avenue bridge.

The proposed agreement with Alexander Company & Iconica calls for a senior living facility with approximately 99 units to be constructed on the site in Phase 1, with a projected assessed value of $15.7 million. The second phase could add an additional ~$2 million in assessed value via single-family homes or condominiums.

The agreement also includes financial assistance for the project via Tax Increment Financing, or TIF. The city's TIF contribution would be 25% of the tax increment value of Phases 1 and 2, not to exceed $4,267,500.

Tax Increment Financing is a frequently used tool to spur development in places where it would not happen without some level of assistance. It's a somewhat complicated process, but here's a quick attempt to explain it:

  1. The value of a property or collection of properties (and as such, its existing tax contribution) is determined. The amount of property tax revenue generated by that property is frozen for a period of time. 
  2. At this point the municipality involved (in our case, the city) can borrow against the "increment," the increased revenue they will receive in the future due to the increased value of this area.
  3. As the value of the property rises due to the development, the increased tax revenue generated by its increased value is used to pay off the debt.
It seems like there's a frequent misconception about how this process works: In the case of tax increment financing, no general fund (citywide property tax) dollars are used. The borrowing is contained and repaid by the TIF district, and does not impact the city's overall tax structure.

Community and Economic Development Committee, Wednesday, 6:30 pm

Elsewhere in significant transactions, on Wednesday the Community and Economic Development Committee will meet in special session to make a recommendation on staff's request to purchase 19.41 acres of property along the city's northwest boundary in the Town of Grand Chute. Assuming the purchase goes through, the property would be annexed into Appleton.

The requested selling price for the property, located at 210 W. Edgewood Drive, is $610,000 including due dilligence costs. That figure could go down if initial wetland delineation shows that large portions of the property would not be buildable. The funds needed for this purchase would come from the city's Industrial Park Land Fund and would not impact the general fund or property taxes.

Maintaining an adequate supply of commercial and industrial property for future development is critical to the ongoing growth of the city. Combined with a recently purchased property adjacent to this one, the city would have slightly less than 25 new acres, pending wetland delineation and utility connections, available in future years.

Common Council, Wednesday, 7 pm

Wednesday's Common Council meeting may be delayed due to a pair of special committee meetings scheduled to happen before we get started. With that said, once the meeting gets started our agenda will include the following items we discussed in last week's update:
  • Last week the Finance Committee voted unanimously to recommend rejecting all bids on the Water Garden Redevelopment Project at the Scheig Center in Memorial Park due to bids coming in well over budget. In the meantime we've been able to do some of this work in-house and will have a smaller project to bid out next spring.
  • The Municipal Services Committee also voted unanimously to recommend approval of the designs for 12 streets scheduled for reconstruction during the 2018 road construction season.
  • The Community and Economic Development Committee voted to recommend approval of the city's portion of the 2017 Community Development Block Grant funding, including $200,000 towards a "small house development."
Of those three, the third is the only item I expect to be controversial at this week's meeting. Committee discussion on the Block Grant topic raised several important points, including the fact that our existing zoning code does not allow the types of structures that our "small house development" would likely entail. I'm looking forward to more discussion to learn more about this topic.

You can see agendas for all of this week's meetings and the full schedule at the city's Legistar page.

Keeping you informed on issues that may impact you around the city is one of my primary goals as an alderman. Good governance happens in the open, and I remain committed to raising awareness on the issues coming before us.

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