By Lauren Zeugner
SYRACUSE — Nine residents attended a public hearing by the Syracuse Redevelopment Commission regarding a residential tax increment finance district for Oakwood Park and for a northern housing development to be located behind Dr. Allen’s office on SR 13. The hearing was held during the redevelopment’s regular meeting Tuesday night, April 19.
Dennis Otten from Bose, McKinney and Evans, explained his firm was engaged to assist in establishing two residential TIFs in Syracuse. Attending the meeting via Zoom, Otten explained when there is an increase in the assessed value of property, the tax from that property can be captured by the redevelopment commission and used for infrastructure improvements.
Otten explained Syracuse has a number of commercial TIF districts. One thing a residential TIF can do is help bring more residential house stock to a community.
Otten explained the process of establishing a residential TIF for those present. Larry Siegel, president of the commission, stressed there currently is no housing stock in town to bring in new families with children, which would provide more school funding, and a residential TIF will have no impact on current property taxes.
Otten explained a residential TIF is not a tax increase or levy; instead, it pools property taxes that are paid and a portion goes to the redevelopment commission.
Resident Mark Schram asked which property would be in the two TIF districts, and whether it would be existing housing or new housing. Otten said all residential structures would be in the TIF district.
Jim Higgings, from London Witte, an accounting firm in Indianapolis assisting the town on the TIF districts, explained existing homes would create a base. Only an increase in assessed value would be collected.
Schram asked if the funds collected in the TIF district would be used for parks and green space. Siegel explained the funds would be used for infrastructure projects such as a new lift station. Schram expressed some confusion, saying he thought funds would be used for green space.
Otten explained a residential TIF can be used for utilities, storm water infrastructure, green space and public safety improvements, but the redevelopment commission has decided to use the collected TIF funds to address infrastructure matters.
Local attorney Steve Snyder noted on a map that was passed out the entire Oakwood TIF shows property owned by Oakwood Realty LLC and asked if the TIF would assist with infrastructure such as water, sewer and street improvements.
Otten said using TIF dollars for some of those infrastructure improvements could help spur needed development.
Higgings noted with a TIF the current rate pays are also not bearing the cost of infrastructure development for new housing.
Snyder asked whether the redevelopment commission will be capturing 100 % of the property tax. Otten said the commission has not gotten to that point yet.
In closing Higgings noted in a residential TIF the assessed value of a property may actually be less than the market value due to deductions such as homestead and mortgage. When establishing a residential TIF, it is assumed the property is a primary home for those living there, and those homeowners have a homestead exemption and mortgage. The circuit breaker tax cap also plays a role in how much a TIF actually captures.
The next step for the Syracuse Redevelopment Commission is to pass a declaratory resolution for both residential TIF districts.