County Likely To Opt Out Again

February 8, 2008
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GRAND RAPIDS — County commissioners are fully expected to follow their economic development participation policy later this week and not allow a new corridor improvement district being created by Gaines and Byron townships to capture any of Kent’s property-tax revenue.

That was the suggestion members of the county’s Finance Committee made last week to the full board, which will meet on Thursday.

“Being consistent with our policy, we need to take this action,” said Richard Vander Molen, county vice chairman and chairman of the Finance Committee.

If commissioners do opt out of the Division Avenue Corridor Improvement District, it will mark the fourth time in roughly the past year they have taken that action.

The Corridor Improvement District runs through Cutlerville along Division Avenue from 60th to 84th streets, and the townships plan to make about $2.4 million worth of traffic, street, infrastructure and other public improvements to the district over the next 15 to 20 years.

Most of the funds for those upgrades would come from property-tax captures taken from improvements that would be made in the corridor.

Gaines Township plans to invest $1.4 million into the district over the next two decades, with $136,350 of that total coming from the capture of its 0.88 mills in the district.

Byron Township would contribute just under $1 million over the same timeframe.

Both capture estimates are based on tax assessments rising by 2 percent annually for the next 20 years.

Kent County has 5.39 mills subject to capture in the district, with 4.28 of those mills used for general operations. Another 0.78 mills is available from the corrections millage, as is 0.32 mills from the senior services millage.

Starting this year through 2027, Gaines Township would capture $670,000 from the county’s operating millage, $123,500 from the corrections millage, and $50,723 from the senior services millage, if the county doesn’t opt out. Byron Township would capture a smaller amount of those millages.

The townships can also capture portions of the property taxes generated by millages from the Kent District Library and Grand Rapids Community College.

The corrections millage expires next year. The senior services and district library millages do the same in 2013. For the tax-capture estimates, the townships are assuming voters will at least renew all three when the millages expire. The GRCC millage is ongoing.

The Division Avenue Corridor Improvement District features a mix of businesses that include retail shops, banks, service firms and restaurants. There are also 3,440 residents in the corridor.

Commissioners have previously opted out of the Byron Center Downtown Development Authority, the Plainfield Avenue Corridor Improvement District, and the Grand Rapids DDA expansion plan. A key provision in the county’s policy is that it engages in creating a separate tax-sharing agreement with a jurisdiction once Kent opts out of a tax-increment financing authority.

The county was able to reach agreements with Plainfield and Grand Rapids townships for the Plainfield Avenue Corridor Improvement District. The agreements are for 10 years with a 10-year option, and have the county and the townships contributing tax revenue to the district on a dollar-per-dollar basis. As part of the contracts, the district can’t capture revenue from the corrections and senior services millages.

Commissioners established their policy last May after they learned that more than $6 million of the county’s tax levy is captured and abated by tax-increment districts. According to the county, those dollars represent 5.8 percent of Kent’s total tax levy.

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