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City acts responsibly in useof urban renewal tool


The Wilsonville City Council is taking action now to close-down three of six “TIF Zones,” which are the city’s voter-approved, single-property urban renewal districts. The TIF Zones were designed as an economic-development tool to encourage private investment to upgrade older, under-utilized warehouses to modern manufacturing facilities with family-wage jobs and greater accessed value.

The three subject properties have either recently been sold as warehouses or other uses or are now occupied as distribution centers — uses that do not qualify for the TIF Zone program. The City is demonstrating responsible use of urban renewal to close in a timely manner districts that have served their purpose and are no longer needed.

The TIF Zone program was developed during the height of the Great Recession when the economy lost many jobs and timing of an economic recovery was uncertain. In creating the TIF Zones, the City Council acted on the advice of a citizen task force — the Economic Development Strategy Advisory Committee — and the city’s voters, who favored it by a 79 percent margin in a special March 2013 advisory election to advance the TIF Zone program as a targeted business-recruitment tool.

In essence, the TIF Zone program provides a partial property-tax rebate for the increase in accessed value that is created due a major renovation of an older building by a manufacturer paying above-average wages. In this manner, private investors have an incentive to redevelop older properties and the community gains through increased property values and new high-wage jobs.

The TIF Zone program has attracted a number of “big fish,” or major employers, to look at Wilsonville who may not have taken the time to look at our community as a potential manufacturing location. The program continues to draw the attention of business recruiters as an economic-development incentive, and therefore provides a hook for starting a conversation about Wilsonville’s positive attributes as a location to do business.

The TIF Zone program helps Wilsonville to compete with other locations around the US and the world that have business-siting incentives such as property tax-abatement programs and other tools.

Terminating these TIF Zone urban renewal districts reduces the time and work burden for staff at the City and County Assessor’s Office, freeing-up staff for other work.

Note: The Wilsonville City Council is scheduled to consider a second reading Ordinance Nos. 745 and 746, which terminate three TIF Zones in two counties, on Sept. 4, 2014.

Tim Knapp is the mayor of Wilsonville.