TIF project looks to clear second step

Published 5:25 pm Monday, April 9, 2018

One down. Two more to go.

Over the last four years, the Watauga River Redevelopment Area has been the topic of discussion with the implementation of a tax-increment financing (TIF) incentive being tossed around to attract new infrastructure in Elizabethton and Carter County.

The TIF plan was passed during the March County Commission meeting by a 21-2-1 vote and will now go before City Council on Thursday, April 12, for a vote of approval. If the incentive receives the green-light from Council, it will then have to go before the Elizabethton Housing and Development Agency Board of Commissioners for the last piece of passage before implementation.

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City of Elizabethton Planning and Development Director Jon Hartman, who is now serving in the capacity of interim city manager as the city starts to vets potential candidates, helped create the plan and indicated the district can be a benefit to the area.

“This incentive will be called the Watauga River Redevelopment Area and will help developers create new infrastructure and clean up any soil contamination on these properties. This will result in new development and ultimately higher tax revenues,” Hartman stated in the agenda document provided to Council.

According to the document, the city is estimating $218,000-plus annually in additional property tax revenue over the course of 30 years.

Once a TIF district is implemented, the city and county would ultimately “freeze” property taxes they would collect on the property while the property owner would continue to pay taxes on the full amount of the assessed value of their property. According to information from the planning development office, “the difference between what the city and county collect and what the property owner pays is set aside into a special TIF fund.” The money gathered would then be reinvested back into the properties receiving the TIF.

Information provided by City Hall indicates the plan area consists of roughly 135.3 acres spanning from behind Wal-Mart off Overmountain Drive to property near Cherokee Park Drive.

The cause for the TIF is to help address the “number of buildings that have fell into disrepair” in the area, according to the redevelopment plan.

“Given the importance of creating a vibrant and economically viable commercial corridor in the Redevelopment Area, the city has identified the area for improvement,” the plan reads.

Potential recreational and community facilities expected from the plan includes various entities to supplement facilities in the district, additional greenways, a river walk bordering the Watauga River and additional access to Sycamore Shoals State Park.

Individuals can visit http://www.elizabethton.org/tif to learn more about the plan.