The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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May 18, 2013

Planning for the future

CLINTON — No Kohl’s.

No casino.

No development in the Lyons Tech Park.

Less tax revenue.

More blight.

That's what Clinton officials say the city would have if they hadn't used tax increment financing to attract development.

Tax increment financing allows the city to capture future tax gains to fund current improvements. Although TIF carries some negative associations, city officials argue that TIF is a tool that has played an integral part in growing the city.

In fiscal year 2012, more than $1.8 million in incremental tax revenue was generated by TIF districts in Clinton. Most of that money is given back to the developers as part of the development agreements and the other part is used for the city to pay debt associated with the development. The city, county and school districts still receive their share of the base tax value and once the development agreements on these TIF districts come to an end, they will reap the benefits of the increased tax value.

The amount of incremental tax will grow in the coming years with RAIL.ONE coming to the Lincolnway Railport, Data Dimensions expanding their Clinton footprint and the Wilson Building slated to become high-end apartments and commercial space.

The city of Clinton has used TIF districts to spur economic development and remediate blight for more than a decade.

"The effect of using TIF is development. You make the argument of, would you have the business park if there wasn't a development agreement with them to utilize TIF dollars? Would you have some of the residential subdivisions that were developed? Would you have a Kohl's, a Target, a casino?" City Finance Director and interim City Administrator Jessica Kinser said. "I understand that it's tying up tax dollars, but there always has to be the question of would this exist? Would the tax value exist and would that future taxable value exist if you didn't do something? It's a balance of what do you want as a community and is the use of TIF going to get you to that point?"

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