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Friday, July 25, 2014

County, Charleston disagree on TIF funds

Friday, October 21, 2005

(Photo)
Bill Green explains Charleston's TIF projects while commissioners Martin Lucas, left, and Jim Blumenberg look on.
CHARLESTON -- Charleston city officials can calculate how much county sales tax should have gone to their Tax Increment Financing fund but aren't likely to receive it.

Officials from the city met with Mississippi County commissioners during the Commission's regular meeting Thursday.

Charleston City Manager Dave Brewer said city officials have worked on the TIF project for a couple of years and "need to get everybody on the same page."

The TIF district was established in the southern half of Charleston "to encourage commercial expansion and new development," according to Bill Green, who has been representing the city in TIF negotiations.

The district is divided into five subdistricts called Redevelopment Project Areas, Green said. RPA 1 is the Charleston Plaza, RPA 2 is south of RPA 1 toward the prison, RPA 3 is the industrial/commercial area between the Plaza and the industrial park, RPA 4 is the industrial park, and RPA 5 is east of the industrial park.

Currently there are four projects in progress: the Alco store in RPA 1; the Cheers and Flagstop truck stops in RPA 5, and Jay's Nest in RPA 4.

Green explained that within the TIF district, property tax and sales tax received in the year before the project is initiated are used for a base. Half of additional property tax and sales tax revenue generated over that base is subject to allocation and put into a fund which is used to reimburse developers for infrastructure improvements.

As the TIF allocations are only taken from the increase over the base, "you'll never lose anything," Green said of tax revenues.

County Clerk Junior DeLay noted that the base is not set when the TIF district is established but when the a project is initiated, "that way we are allowed our natural growth."

Presiding Commissioner Jim Blumenberg said county officials were prepared to send half of the increase in property taxes over the base to the TIF fund but never were advised sales tax funds were also subject to allocation.

"That should have been discussed up front," Blumenberg said. With the county 10 months into the budget year, the county can't pay that sales tax back, he said.

"I don't have a problem with the future (sales tax receipts)," said Commissioner Martin Lucas. Lucas said the county depends on sales tax more than property tax.

Green suggested commissioners meet with the City Council. "You will probably find a very sympathetic ear over there," he said.

Green also said he will research whether dedicated sales taxes such as the senior citizen or law enforcement taxes are included in the allocation.

County officials said this was the first they have heard of sales tax being included in the TIF allocations. "It was never been discussed before the day before yesterday," DeLay said.

In other business Thursday:

* The county's health insurance policy with Blue Cross-Blue Shield was renewed through Mitchell Insurance in Sikeston.

By raising the deduction from $1,500 to $2,500 the county will be able to keep the annual premium to about the same as paid in 2005. DeLay said by the law of averages, only about 10 percent of employees ever satisfy their deductible.

"If we maintained the exact same coverage, it will be 10-percent increase over this year," DeLay said.

The annual premium for 2005 was $370,784 and, with the higher deductible, will be $370,479 for 2006 as compared with $410,244 if the policy was not changed.

Employees will continue to pay the first $750 of their deductible after which the county will pay.

Lucas said the county could cover the balance of the deductible for 24 employees and still come out ahead as compared with what the county would have spent on the increased premium.

* Commissioners accepted the sole bid of $5,814.98 from Anderson Computers in Charleston for hardware to run the county recorder's new computer indexing system purchased last month.

"I expected some other people to bid," said Judy Rolwing, recorder.

The bid includes two computer work stations, a public viewing station, a laser printer, software, setup and installation.

The purchase of a wireless router for the system, which was left out of the bid, was also approved.

* Radios for the county's mobile emergency communications unit are ordered and should arrive in 7 to 10 days, according to Blumenberg.

The county has purchased a 16-by-7-foot double axle trailer with two rear doors and a side door, Blumenberg said. "It's a really nice trailer," he said.

Blumenberg said when it is finished, the unit should be parked at the county airport.

* Commissioners discussed possibilities for next year's Bootheel Solid Waste District funds.

Blumenberg suggested a couple more recycling trailers to place in Anniston and Pinhook and Lucas proposed a leaf collection machine for East Prairie.

"We really need a recycling center in Mississippi County somewhere," Blumenberg said.

Commissioners also discussed a waste drop off site for the county. Blumenberg said there are a lot of people moving to the county from cities who are used to having places to drop junk off, "and we really don't have anything in the county."

Blumenberg said the county is better off accepting appliances at a site. "It keeps you from getting stuff out in your ditches," he said.

* Commissioners are looking for someone to harvest the hay around the county airport.

The person who presently has the agreement with the county doesn't want to do it anymore, according to Blumenberg. Commissioners could not recall anyone else expressing an interest in the job lately.

The hay harvester is not paid but gets to keep all the hay. The agreement is a three-year deal so the harvesters can recuperate the cost of fertilizer if they choose to use it.