By Curt Peterson
The Killington Select Board unanimously authorized execution of a contract engaging White + Burke Real Estate Advisors, Inc. to shepherd the town’s application for approval of a tax increment financing (TIF) district, pending approval by the town’s legal counsel.
Approval as a TIF district would provide funding for infrastructure improvements that would trigger private development, raise tax revenues and create jobs.
Killington seeks funding for its Killington Road master plan (repaving and expanding) and a new municipal water system, which totals about $50 million.
Under the TIF program, Killington would use 85% of the municipal increase from the TIF-district to pay debt service and 70% of the education fund to service debts.
The first of two contract phases will “determine the feasibility of a [TIF] district in Killington, and the community’s readiness for a TIF district,” according to White + Burke’s proposal, as well as review of “private development projects and related public infrastructure investments.”
White + Burke will then assess the “financial viability” of the proposed TIF project.
Generally, viability is determined by comparing the cost of infrastructure improvements necessary for TIF qualification, the cost of debt service regarding TIF bond financing, and anticipated TIF-increased tax revenue.
In Phase II, White + Burke would submit the official application for state approval.
“This involves preparation and adoption of a written TIF plan that includes data analysis and explains the opportunities and implications for the town,” the proposal indicates, including informational meetings, any necessary hearings, and facilitating Select Board approval.
As cited, private investment is necessary to qualify for TIF funding. White + Burke will assist the town in negotiating with developers, who have not yet been publicly named. But because White + Burke has previously represented SP Land Company, which owns the development rights for the proposed TIF district, in their “planning and permitting on the Killington Village Master Plan project,” a resolution to avoid conflict of interest has been drafted.
Town Manager Chet Hagenbarth and SP Land President Steven Selbo negotiated a “Mutual Agreement Regarding Retention of White + Burke Real Estate Advisors, Inc.” to resolve any conflict of interest, stating: “The Town and SP Land … agree that the Town’s use of [White + Burke] for [TIF] financing related representation will not prevent or inhibit any future representation by [White + Burke] on behalf of SP Land … with respect to its ongoing planning and permitting efforts.” The document was also signed by White + Burke Vice-President Stephanie Clarke in acknowledgement.
The White + Burke contract calls for “time and materials” billing, with an estimate of $20,000 for the first phase, and $30,000 for the second. This does not include fees for any specialists or consultants that White + Burke and the Select Board agree to engage.
Selectman Jim Haff, who made the motion to authorize the contract, said the $50,000 total estimated cost would be included in approved financing for the TIF project if the state ultimately approves Killington’s application.
“And if not approved,” he asked, “where would the funding come from?”
Hagenbarth said that the town could pay it out of the Killington Road master plan restricted fund with the road pavement portion. “In either case, the contract won’t affect the budget,” he said.
Clarke will be the project manager for Killington’s TIF quest. She has successfully shepherded six of the seven total TIF districts that have been approved by the state, including projects in Burlington, White River, St. Albans and Barre.