To The Daily Sun,
What do we want our downtown to be?
There will be a special meeting (Monday night, December 9th) of the City Council and the Laconia Downtown TIF Advisory Board for a discussion of proposed Downtown TIF projects.
Four question: First, should I care what is being proposed to do with downtown?
Second, there is a lot of money involved, and should I say how it is spent?
Third, can this TIF money be spent better?
Four, what is TIF money?
I think in order to understand the other three, an explanation of TIF money in its simplest terms is needed.
Basically, TIF money is the result of businesses making improvements or building new buildings in an area designated as a TIF district. In this case, it involves a certain area in and around downtown. When these improvements or new structures are done, the value of that property goes up and so do the taxes on that property. The city, instead of taking all of the increase, takes only half of the increased amount and puts the other half into the TIF fund. These monies will be used for whatever structural improvements may be needed in that area as well as other improvements to that area. Over the past few years over $300,000 has accumulated and each year, the city will continue to collect amounts that represent a half of their increased assessments. This year we will realize $173,000 to be added to this account in July.
This, potentially, could mean bonding for a large amount of money to carry out some major improvements or acquisitions to do something with downtown. The bond notes would be paid by the TIF monies that will continue to flow into the city until projects are completed.
Ultimately, it is the City Council that will decide what and how much will be spent, but there is an Advisory Board for the TIF which has been working hard for a few years now on plans for downtown. Presently, they would like approximately 1.8 million dollars for Main Street Gateway improvements, benches, trees, statutory and some infrastructure at a cost of $486,032, continuing the Riverwalk segments in three areas for a total of $600,000, a pocket park at Water Street and Pleasant for $290,000, and the WOW trail expansion, Main St. to Fair Street for $400,000.
A matter this important and expensive must be one that is fully discussed and thought out, by the public as well as the Advisory Board and the Council.
So, I ask that members of the public attend this public meeting and voice your opinions. If you cannot attend, contact your councilors and let them know how you want your money spent.
Do we want our money spent on ornamental adornments or do we want investments that will encourage downtown investors that will increase our tax revenues, provide places for the visitors to our area to go and spend their money, and to give local people places to spend their money locally?
These are serious matters and we should not rush into spending large amounts of money without deciding what path is the best one for Laconia. The meeting of the TIF portion will be at 6 p.m., before the regular 7 p.m. meeting.
Councilor Brenda Baer
Ward 4 - Laconia