Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Study Session

Minutes
Monday, February 14, 2011

MINUTES FOR THE STUDY SESSION

ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL

Monday, February 14, 2011

Siskiyou Room, 51 Winburn Way

 

 

Mayor Stromberg called the meeting to order at 5:31 p.m. in the Siskiyou Room.

 

Councilor Morris, Silbiger, Chapman, Slattery, and Voisin were present.  Councilor Lemhouse was absent.

 

The Look Ahead agenda item was moved to number 3. on the agenda.  

 

1.         Does Council have feedback about the Preliminary Infrastructure Financing Plan and Urban Renewal Feasibility Study?

Planning Manager Maria Harris introduced the consultant team for the Feasibility Study, Jeff Tashman of Tashman Johnson LLC, Nancy Guitteau from Urban Land Economics and Elaine Howard of Elaine Howard Consulting LLC.  Each consultant provided their personal background on working with Urban Renewal programs throughout Oregon.

 

Mr. Tashman explained the feasibility study would determine whether Croman Mill District, the Rail Road District, and downtown enhancements were possible opportunities for urban renewal development and generate ways to finance improvements over time.  The study will establish boundaries for each area along with operational definitions but would not necessarily make up the Urban Renewal District. The consultants would recommend to Council what the actual urban renewal boundaries should be.  They would also complete a real estate market assessment for each area for tax increment revenues to prepare a range of development projections. 

 

The market assessment will generate a development projection that involves a translation of market values, assumptions on borrowing, short and long-term debt, with a preliminary determination of revenue stream and borrowing capacity.  Concurrent to the development projection, the team will work with staff to compile projects that need to happen in the three areas that will generate project costs.  In addition to urban renewal, the consultants will look at other funding sources that include System Development Charge (SDC) revenues, gas tax, and tax increment financing. 

 

Councilor Silbiger declared a potential conflict of interest regarding the Croman Mill Site area. 

 

Mr. Tashman clarified they would use the all three City master plans as a basic source of information.  They anticipated presenting Council with Findings on a preliminary infrastructure finance plan mid 2011.  The Findings will determine projects needed in the areas, potential costs and financing sources.  Stakeholder meetings with the taxing districts, City, County, School District, and the Rogue Valley Transit District will explain how the value will be there for investments that urban renewal can contribute towards development. 

 

Urban renewal will establish a boundary area and a frozen base so the assessed values within that area, those taxes will continue going to all the taxing jurisdictions and any increase in value over the term of the urban renewal area will go to the urban renewal agency.  That meant the 3% or less of increased value indicated would go to the urban renewal agency for use on projects within that area.  Mr. Tashman would provide Council with a hard copy explaining how urban renewal affected taxing districts.  He further explained time limits noting that a 20-year period was common and that Council would decide the time limit. Additionally, Urban Renewal did not affect the taxpayers by increasing taxes it divided where taxes went.

 

Ms. Howard explained Tax Increment Financing was a statewide provision that gave cities and counties authority to set up Urban Renewal Districts for areas that needed stimulus to improve. Urban renewal was used for streetscape, lighting, storefront loans to improve buildings as well as industrial areas.

 

When the feasibility study was complete, public involvement would begin with the City sending out notifications in utility bills or through voter registration.  It would also involve the Planning Commission, City Council and require a non-emergency ordinance.  The notice sent to property owners will contain a clause that states urban renewal will affect property taxes.  However, taxes do not increase, they are divided, and people will pay the same rate.  Taxes before the frozen base go to the taxing jurisdictions, above the frozen base goes to urban renewal.

 

A downside to urban renewal was it would take money from taxing jurisdictions that they would ordinarily spend.  Most often taxing jurisdictions understand this and do not oppose it.  Ms. Howard went on to describe successful urban renewal programs.

 

Mr. Tashman noted that urban renewal does not always succeed.  However, there have not been urban renewal agencies that borrowed money and were unable to pay it back.  Lending agencies were conservative regarding urban renewal borrowings, limit the money borrowed, and look at the amount and reliability of those revenues. 

 

Mr. Tashman clarified that a feasibility study shelf life depended on the pace of change.  Alternately, urban renewal plans have an extensive shelf life and helped cities be prepared when development opportunities occurred.  Urban renewal does not legally preclude enterprise zones but enterprise zones defer and reduce the amount of tax revenue for a project and create a harder work out. 

 

Ms. Guitteau explained her responsibility was to estimate and project the amount of development in each of the designated areas using supply and demand.  Indications of demand would come from recent development trends in the City, long-range employment forecasts, and discussions from commercial property owners and developers as well as reviewing real estate evaluations.  Projections will be by land use in 5-year increments.  Supply will be determined by looking at vacant parcels, employment, and improvement to land ratios to gain an indication of development type within the next twenty years.  Supply would also include researching sales data.  Projections would be conservative in the first several years. 

 

2.         Does the proposed budget for Mayor and Council for Fiscal Year 2012 meet the needs of the Mayor and Council?

City Administrator Martha Bennett noted an overall reduction for 2012. 

 

3.         Look Ahead Review  

City Administrator Martha Bennett reviewed items on the Look Ahead.

 

 

Meeting adjourned at 7:24p.m.

 

 

Respectfully submitted,                                

Dana Smith

Assistant to the City Recorder

 

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