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CAMANCHE — Camanche city officials continue to work through the process of establishing a Tax Increment Financing district.

Camanche City Administrator Andrew Kida in May presented a possible urban renewal area and TIF district along Washington Boulevard in Camanche.

Iowa law allows the city to establish an urban renewal area, Dorsey and Whitney attorney John Danos said during a recent City Council meeting. An urban renewal area is a geographic area that allows the city to undertake urban renewal projects, including Tax Increment Financing, Danos said. Tax Increment Financing is a tool by which the city is given access to property tax dollars that they would not ordinarily have access to in order to help fund urban renewal projects, Danos said.

Every urban renewal area has a foundational underpinning that is economic development, slum elimination or blight elimination or prevention, Danos said.

“You have to decide why are we doing this,” Danos said. “Is it for economic development purposes? Is it to fight blighted conditions? I don’t think you’re going to make a slum finding in Camanche. Or is it a combination of the two? And most of our clients that have both economic development and blighted conditions will typically wind up making the combination finding.”

The city is at the point where they would be looking to work on the definition of the area as an urban renewal area, Kida said at last week’s City Council meeting.

“I think I’ll get council a little more information to get more in depth with the specific properties and kind of why we’ve come to this kind of outline of what we have and what the projections are,” Kida said.

Kida stated he was open to any further ideas to add to the proposal. The city wants to keep the urban renewal area in a defined area, he said.

“I do think, too, we have the ability to utilize that blight aspect within this defined area to really help capitalize on some good projects,” Kida said.

If the city chooses to pursue the urban renewal area purely focused on economic development, Danos’ advice will be for the city to proceed in a very precise method that is project oriented going forward, he said. If the city chooses to utilize just the economic development focus, Danos suggests the city identify a few projects to undertake, he said.

“When we set up economic development urban renewal and TIF areas for our clients without blight involved, we take a very tightly project-focused type of approach,” Danos said. “What are the projects that you know you’re going to undertake? What are the properties that you think are going to be generating enough TIF to support just those projects? It used to be we would play come see and set up big, broad, expansive areas and just wait for things to develop. But the legislature has changed things from a regulatory standpoint that can create some confusion and disadvantage from throwing the net too wide with respect to economic development areas.”

If the city chooses to make a blight finding or a mixed economic development and blight finding, Danos advises the city try to include many parcels in the community that they think are suffering from blight or are threatened by future blighted conditions and create an area that encompasses all of the properties of concern, he said.

“I think an initial conversation you folks are going to want to have as we lead up to maybe some planning and formal action is whether or not any sort of a blight underpinning for an urban renewal area is warranted, where do you have blighted conditions in the community and not shy away from it if you’re going to go that route,” Danos said.

The council will discuss the potential urban renewal area at a future council meeting.

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