The Delta Urban Renewal Authority has officially been expanded to include representatives from the taxing agencies that are being asked to buy in to the city's vision for economic revitalization.
The Delta Urban Renewal Authority, or DURA, has been in existence since 1985 but was inactive until recent economic revitalization efforts underscored the need to secure funding for future projects.
Since DURA was established, tax increment financing, or TIF, has been adopted as one of the tools an urban renewal authority can use to finance bonds. The funds can then be used for rehabilitation and infrastructure improvements that will hopefully draw private investment.
This type of financing requires buy-in from taxing entities that agree to give up property tax or sales tax generated by the new development. The "increment" is pooled to fund rehabilitation.
Because those taxing entities have a stake in the new development, state statute requires they be represented on the urban renewal authority board. Joining the five Delta City Council members on the DURA board are Jill Jurca, representing Delta County Joint School District #50; Don Suppes, representing Delta County; Bill Crank, representing the smaller taxing districts; and Tom Huerkamp, appointed by the mayor to meet state requirements for an odd number of DURA commissioners.
After the commissioners were sworn into office last week, attorney Carolynne White, special counsel to DURA, outlined the next steps.
While White was in town, she and city manager David Torgler met with the majority of the taxing districts that are being asked to approve the TIF financing. DURA will enter into intergovernmental agreements (IGAs) with each taxing body. That process can take up to 120 days, White said. If discussions come to a standstill, both parties enter into mediation. White said she is optimistic an agreement with all parties will be reached well within 120 days.
After those agreements are in place, a project plan can be presented, White explained. The city has been working on a draft plan that will be reviewed by DURA commissioners, then the plan will be made public through Delta Planning Commission and Delta City Council hearings.
White said the plan will have defined boundaries and goals. At this point, the proposed project plan area incorporates 824 acres, nearly half of which is public. While parks and other city-owned property do not generate property or sales tax, they were included in the plan area because that's where DURA is likely to spend some of the tax increment.
White sketched out the DURA boundaries, pointing out major retailers that had been excluded in an effort to be "respectful" of the sales tax currently being collected for government operations.
It will be several years before new revenue is generated through the TIF, White added, but it's possible the TIF can be used to leverage other types of financing, including grants and loans.
While TIF can be used for private investment, White said the goal is not to create a "windfall" for any developer, but to make just enough improvements to spur private investment.
One area that's viewed as an unrealized asset is the city's riverfront. River corridor improvements and a gateway/hotel project are seen as building blocks for economic development and community enhancement.
The DURA board meets as needed. White suggested the next meeting take place in 30 to 45 days, when she and Torgler can provide a status report on the IGAs.