Officials with the city and the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation said last week their evolving public incentive policy for downtown included limiting the use tax increment financing.
Under the initial proposal, TIF money wouldn’t be used to buy land for developers or cover the costs of demolishing blighted buildings.
But they’ve changed their minds.
In an e-mail Monday, Terry Cassady, the city’s development assistance director, said that the plan will now allow developers to use TIF dollars in any way state law allows, which includes land acquisition and demolition.
The move comes just a day before she and other downtown officials present their investment policy to the city council in a 9:30 a.m. workshop.
In a TIF district, the city estimates how much property taxes will increase because of proposed redevelopment projects. Then the city gives the developer money equal to the amount of additional property tax that is projected over 20 years. The city gets repaid as it captures the new property tax dollars. Such financing has been used to help investors redevelop Old Town, the area near Wesley Medical Center and several other projects. Many of the TIF district projects have let developers spend the tax money to acquire land and demolish old buildings as well as pay for infrastructure, such as sewers and sidewalk amenities.
Another departure from past policy city officials discussed last week was to exclude the city’s facade improvement program, which uses special assessments with financial guarantees to the city to help developers improve the exterior of their buildings.
“Special assessments are temporary financing that is repaid to the city; thus, we aren’t recommending that the facade program be subject to the incentive criteria evaluation,” Cassady wrote, referring to the scoring system they plan to use to evaluate whether downtown projects are worthy of public help.
The city’s asbestos and lead paint programs that use special assessments to help developers fix environmental problems will also continue without evaluation under the new downtown investment policy.