Tuesday, October 21, 2014

City council hears questions and answers about tax-increment financing, to be used at Midway Station

The Midway City Council heard a consultant for the plan to use tax-increment financing to develop Midway Station answer a series of written questions from a likely council member Monday night.

After the council disposed of several largely routine items of business, John Harris of Commonwealth Economics answered six questions posed by Libby Warfield, one of six candidates for the six council seats in the Nov. 4 election. He distributed written responses to the council, then elaborated on them. A PDF with Warfield's questions and Harris's responses can be downloaded here.

Asked by the Messenger if she was satisfied with the answers she received, Warfield said she would have to check with her son, Matt, a former council member who worked for the state Revenue Cabinet and compiled the questions.

Tax-increment financing uses extra tax revenue generated by a development to pay for the public infrastructure associated with the development.

Council Member Grayson Vandegrift, a candidate for mayor, asked Harris, "What would you say in a nutshell are the biggest risks the city takes?" Harris said that since the city isn't being asked to guarantee any bonds, its risk would be to its reputation if the proposed industrial, commercial and residential development fails.

"Versailles took the reputational risk" with a redevelopment project that was delayed for years, Harris said. "I don't think it's a big risk at all." Later, he noted that the state TIF law requires a development to start within four years and "another couple of years" to reach the $20 million minimum investment.

"These are all really very good questions," said Harris, who was the last secretary of finance for the administration of Gov. Ernie Flecther in 2007. "It took me three or four years to understand the statute I helped write." He said the state's interpretation of the law has evolved.

In a related matter, the council gave first reading to an ordinance rezoning a 38-acre tract on Georgetown Road that would be added to Midway Station, presumably for a prospective industry.

The Woodford County Economic Development Authority, which asked for the rezoning and owns Midway Station, will hold its monthly meeting at 8 a.m. Friday, Oct. 24 in the Anne Hart Raymond Center at Midway College.

In another matter involving Warfield, the council denied her request for reimbursement of $2,330 for a water line her father installed in 1989, on grounds that the reimbursement ordinance has a 10-year limit. Warfield told the council that the line "will now be used by entire west side of town. . . . I just thought out of fairness I should ask. Now I can tell my father that I tried."

In other business, the council voted to schedule trick or treat for Friday, Oct. 31 from 6 to 8 p.m.; authorized Bozarth to execute a new franchise agreement with Kentucky Utilities; and decided to seek a neutral site for a meeting with the Woodford County Fiscal Court to discuss the dispute over financing of emergency management services.

The court had proposed that the meeting be held in conjunction with its regular meeting on Nov. 25, but Mayor Tom Bozarth said, "I think our meeting should be held at a place like KCTCS or Midway College, in a more inviting environment, where we can all sit down at the table and have a conversation instead of sitting in the courtroom and being in the audience."

UPDATE: Wednesday morning, a special meeting was announced for the council's special emergency-management committee from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 23 at the Woodford County Chamber of Commerce office in Versailles. The meeting will also include representatives from the Versailles City Council, which is also at odds with the county about emergency-management funding.

Regarding another meeting, Bozarth noted that the state Transportation Cabinet will hold a public hearing from 5 to 7 p.m.Oct. 30 on the corridor for the proposed Versailles bypass, which could route more traffic onto narrow US 62. "It's very critical for both Versailles and probably Midway to see exactly what's going on," he said.

Bozarth also announced that Habitat for Humanity will hold an open house Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. at its recently built home on North Winter Street, and that bids for reconstruction of water lines on Higgins Street will be opened Nov. 6.

Council Member Sharon Turner, the other mayoral candidate, announced that the Cemetery Committee would meet Oct. 27 at 4:30 p.m. to discuss a proposed mausoleum and landscaping, and the Blighted Property Committee would meet Oct. 28 28 at 8:30 a.m. to continue its discussions about individual properties.

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