Commission approves TIF funding for downtown mural lighting

artsfest mural

City Commissioners unanimously approved a request for $150,000 in downtown tax increment financing funds for the design and installation of alley lighting.

The Downtown Business Improvement District submitted an application for the funds, which was recommended by the Downtown Development Partnership.

The project will design and install alley and mural lighting on 10 buildings.

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According to the BID, the project would provide additional safety and security around 24 ArtsFest murals.

“These areas have been identified as having seen an increase in pedestrian traffic, but also extended viewing hours, and therefore are in need of further lighting to create a higher level of safety,” according to the staff report.

Property owners will be responsible for ongoing maintenance and electricity costs.

Commissioner Rick Tryon said, “I think it’s a great project.”

Commissioner Joe McKenney said that while TIF and other city programs have helped downtown revitalization, “it’s really the entrepreneurs downtown that are doing the heavy lifting, the dreaming and taking the risk. Who would think murals would have such a positive impact.”

The BID’s request for $150,000 covers the cost of the contract for an electrical engineer to design the lighting plan, and then a contract with an electrical contractor to complete the installation.

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The estimated cost for design is $25,000, and installation is estimated at $125,000.

The property locations for mural lighting installation are:

  •  101 Central Ave.
  • 111 Central Ave.
  • 15 5th St. S.
  • 17 7th St. S.
  • 504 Central Ave.
  • 509 1st Ave. N.
  • 509 1st Ave. S.
  • 612 1st Ave. S.
  • 618 Central Ave.
  • 8 5th St. N.

TIF districts and the use of the funds are governed by state law.

Tax increment financing districts are designated areas of the city where the base taxes on properties go into the general fund, but the tax revenue generated by improvements to properties in the district go into a fund that is used to fund public improvements in the district with the idea of spurring development.

When a district expires, those funds go back into the general fund. If the district wasn’t in place, those funds would be in the general fund.

The downtown TIF district was established in 2012 and he said it took time to generate development and start building up the TIF fund.

For the downtown TIF funding, projects must be eligible under the city’s Downtown Urban Renewal Plan and state law.

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Staff and outside bond counsel have reviewed the request and are recommending approval.

The applicant and each affected property owner are required to enter into a development agreement with the city, according to staff.

The downtown TIF fund has a current cash balance of $3,889,035, according to the city staff report, and though that doesn’t include debt service payments or other obligations, there’s adequate funding to fulfill the request.