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Greenwood OKs expanding TIF district

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A Greenwood board gave final approval to doubling the size of a taxing district that will collect property taxes for economic development projects such as replacing downtown streets and sidewalks.

The city redevelopment commission unanimously approved expanding the boundaries of a tax-increment financing, or TIF, district by 2,000 acres. The city is expanding its eastside TIF district to include more of downtown and properties nearly parallel to U.S. 31 between County Line Road and the city’s southern edge.

As part of the expansion, the commission agreed to give other local governments, including the library and Greenwood and Clark-Pleasant school districts, a way to get back at least some of the money captured in the TIF districts. These districts collect property taxes on new development and increased property values in an area. Schools, libraries and other governments then don’t collect the taxes as they would usually.

But exactly what that money could pay for isn’t known yet.

The redevelopment commission will not use TIF money to buy laptop computers or school buses, as Clark-Pleasant Superintendent Patrick Spray had suggested in past months, redevelopment commission president Mike Tapp said.

Maintenance work and constructing new school buildings also wouldn’t be considered, he said.

The state governs how TIF money can be spent on redevelopment and infrastructure projects. Greenwood officials said spending TIF money to buy buildings or construct roads, for example, could help the city, schools and library while following state law, Tapp said.

“We’re still in exploration mode,” he said.

The city hasn’t decided yet how the process for funding school and library projects would work, Tapp said. Members of the city council, Tapp, the mayor and other city employees met with officials from Clark-Pleasant schools, Greenwood Community School Corp. and the library in recent weeks.

Greenwood and Clark-Pleasant schools superintendents asked the city earlier this year to use TIF money to pay for school projects, or at least promise to consider paying for them in the future. The city council chose to allow other governments’ projects to be added to the eastside TIF district’s capital projects list. That agreement was in response to concerns raised by school officials that the city was going to capture property tax dollars away from the school districts when school budgets already were tight.

The redevelopment commission would have to approve individual projects that schools or the Greenwood Public Library propose to spend TIF funds on. Those projects can’t be considered until the expanded TIF starts earning property tax dollars and the city decides what kinds of projects the schools and library can ask the city to fund, Tapp said.

The list of projects that TIF money could be spent on also includes work to widen streets and sidewalks downtown, add bike lanes to roads and pay for building façade repairs.

The redevelopment commission has five appointed members who oversee spending millions in TIF money as incentives for companies to expand in Greenwood. The commission also spends TIF dollars on road and other infrastructure projects to spur development, and is spending $10 million to build an aquatic center with pools, water slides and a lazy river.

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