Source: Sherman Publications

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Ortonville DDA updates long-term plans

by Susan Bromley

May 07, 2014

Ortonville- A public hearing on amending the Downtown Development Authority's tax increment financing plan will be at 6:30 p.m., May 27, at the township offices, 395 Mill St.

The hearing will be held just prior to the regular village council meeting. Tax increment financing does not add taxes. The DDA is required by Public Act 197 to update their TIF plan, to include projects from the village master plan, as well as the DDA strategic plan.

The village's DDA was established in 1986, and the TIF plan was last updated in 1994.

"When we first created the DDA, we created and ordinance that had a basic project list and properties within the zone and projects that would be accomplished," said DDA Executive Director Molly LaLone. "Projects are the reason for having the zone."

Among the original projects was a covered bridge on South Street, which will remain in the plan, as well as historic building preservation and maintenance. All projects relating to water and sewer will also be listed in the TIF plan, as well as projects for increasing walkability in the village, economic restructuring activities, and support of downtown businesses through grant programs. Project costs and construction updates are estimated within the document and the updated TIF plan will also include organizational structure of the DDA.

The DDA zone includes properties on Mill and South streets in the downtown business district, as well as businesses on M-15 within the village limits. The tax increment is the difference between the amount of property tax generated when the TIF district was created and the incremental increase generated after the base year.

"There are no additional taxes for this, they are just redirected taxes," explained LaLone. "The theory is that because we are focusing on downtown businesses, there will be improvements on downtown and the property values will increase. The amount above the baseline is what the DDA is allowed to collect."

Likewise, she continued, when property values go down, as they have in recent years, the DDA does not collect any money on those properties. If the money was not redirected to the DDA, it would go in the village's general fund. The DDA collected $87,000 in TIF in 2014, on average, half a percent of what is levied in total on a property, said LaLone..

"The money we collect goes back into helping our downtown be the best it can be, despite challenges that are present, such as not having sewers, such as having a recession," she said.

The TIF program is set to expire in December 2016 and the update will extend the program to 2035.