Feasibility study will determine whether district with tax increment revenue could benefit city

Scappoose councilors and city staff hope a $35,000 study will determine whether the city should pursue an urban renewal district.

The Scappoose City Council voted Tuesday, Jan. 2, to authorize economic development funds be spent on a feasibility study for a potential urban renewal district in Scappoose.SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: COURTNEY VAUGHN - The city of Scappoose is contracting with ECONorthwest to study whether an urban renewal district would be beneficial in city limits.

Urban renewal districts rely on a tax increment revenue system that generates designated revenue for projects within district boundaries. The program allows assessed values of property within the renewal district to be frozen, then uses property tax revenue from any increase in assessed value over the frozen amount to fund development or improvement projects.

In Scappoose's case, a district would serve as "a method to promote economic development and fund capital improvements such as infrastructure," city documents indicate.

A $22,500 grant from the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development will cover most of the study, with the city footing the bill for the remaining $12,500 using funds from its economic development committee fund.

The feasibility study will be done by ECONorthwest, the same firm the city just contracted with to perform its housing needs analysis. ECONorthwest was selected after city staff reviewed quotes from three different consulting firms, a staff report indicates.

Tuesday's expenditure vote yielded no discussion from city councilors, but the study came after joint meetings between councilors and the city's Economic Development Committee.

The feasibility study comes on the heels of city discussions about how to fund costly water and wastewater treatment infrastructure projects on the horizon.

City staff say an urban renewal district could help generate revenue needed to help pay for major projects and maintenance over the next few decades, rather than packing all the costs into utility rates.

The study is expected to commence this month.

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