By Curt Peterson and Polly Mikula
Thirty-eight people on Zoom joined at least three dozen others in person on Tuesday evening, Jan. 4, when the Killington Select Board approved the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District plan and financing plan and the state application.
The application now goes to Vermont Economic Progress Council (VEPC) who will spend the next few months reviewing the materials, conducting site visits and asking follow up questions of the town.
Approval for the district could come as soon as April, according to Stephanie Clarke, consultant with White + Burke Real Estate Advisors, the firm hired to assist the town with the TIF application.
The town is hoping to use TIF in order for municipal infrastructure investments to catalyze needed private development. Namely, a municipal water system and the reconstruction of Killington Road — both of which are proven obstacles to future growth—as well as affordable housing.
Many members of the public spoke up on Tuesday, creating a lively, informative and civil discussion about the town’s plans — and potential risks associated.
Once a town is approved as a TIF district, it can use a portion of newly generated municipal and state education taxes to pay the debt service created by building public infrastructure. However, development agreements must be put in place in order for any actual development to occur.
“The state does not allow towns to use the ‘build it and they will come’ model. We are not Field of Dreams,” Clarke explained.
In other words, just being approved as a TIF district, doesn’t guarantee development or any specific development agreement — those crucial details will be worked out in the next phase, after the district is approved by the state.
Future development agreements will ensure that public investments will spur enough growth to cover the debt service on the municipal bond, thereby not increasing municipal taxes. It’s a long-term plan that contemplates repayment via the additional revenue over 20 years.