By NIKKI YOUNK
FLORENCE, Wis. - There will be a public hearing for Florence County's proposed tax increment financing (TIF) district at the Florence County Courthouse at 7 p.m. today.
The proposed TIF area encompasses 651.76 contiguous acres in the town of Florence. Included areas are the industrial park, all of Central Avenue, the Natural Resource Center, the area south of U.S. 2 going west out of town, and some parcels north of the downtown area.
Florence County Economic Development Director Wendy Gehlhoff explained that owners of land and buildings within the TIF district would continue to pay normal taxes to the school, technical college, town, and county.
Any new tax generation, which could come from a new building or growth in property value, would be put aside to pay for new developments, such as roads or utility extensions, within the district, she said.
"A TIF is the most powerful economic development tool available to local governments in the state of Wisconsin," Gehlhoff added. "We can use it to attract new development or build on existing projects."
Possible projects for the TIF district include an assisted living facility, a senior housing complex, a hotel, expanding on the existing motel, more facilities in the industrial park, residential developments, or a recreational vehicle (RV) rest stop area.
"The project plan is only a wish list of projects for the next 20 years," Gehlhoff emphasized. "No projects have to be done if the financials don't make sense or an entrepreneur isn't found."
According to Gehlhoff, 93 percent of all TIF districts in Wisconsin have closed successfully in an average of 16 years.
Gehlhoff calculated an example of what would happen if the Florence TIF fails.
"If the TIF closes with a $500,000 loss in 20 years, then the owner of a property anywhere in the county assessed at $100,000 would pay $10 over a 10-year bonding period," she said. "However, if we close the TIF with a positive balance, then all the new assessed value growth we create helps reduce their tax bill by taking up a larger portion of the tax levy, so their same property pays less of the tax levy."
Gehlhoff and a consultant will be giving a brief presentation about the TIF during the public hearing.
If the TIF gets approved by September, it will have a retroactive starting date of January 2013. That means the TIF will collect any new assessed value starting from the first of the year.
Nikki Younk's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.