Fairland schools back RiverWalk funding plan

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 29, 2005

PROCTORVILLE - Fairland Schools officials gave their stamp of approval to the proposed RiverWalk development and the plan to finance it.

Members of the Fairland Board of Education met with RiverWalk developers Tuesday to discuss what the project could mean to the schools and to the community.

&#8220Today, our purpose for meeting is three fold,” Superintendent Jerry McConnell said. &#8220We are going to talk about the RiverWalk project, financing and how it can possibly impact our school district.”

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RiverWalk has been touted as a way to turn 120 acres into a multi-use, planned community that would include a marina, luxury condos, a hotel and convention center, a retirement community, medical and professional facilities, industrial and shopping opportunities.

The site, located between Indian Guyan Creek and the 31st Street Bridge in Proctorville, is owned by Dale and Carolyn Manns, who also own Superior Marine, Inc., and are planning to operate the marina, the focal point of the development.

RiverWalk is projected to cost between $110 and $130 million in private investments from the developers and will cost $8 to $9 million in improvements to infrastructure - roads, sidewalks and utilities. Much of this tab has to be picked up by local government.

To assist in the funding, the county can look for federal and state grants and can develop a tax increment financing plan (TIF).

&#8220It is a totally new concept that makes it possible to access tax dollars,” Pat Clonch, consultant on the RiverWalk project said. &#8220There is something in it for every segment of society.”

Tax increment financing is an agreement between the local government and other entities that receive revenue from property taxes to allow for a division of the new property tax revenues that would be generated by the project.

The new tax revenue

monies would be split between the school district and the local government entity, which

would then use it to pay for the infrastructure improvements or to pay back bonds that are used to finance the project.

Fifty percent of the tax revenue from the new development will be put into a county fund to pay the debt service and finance the infrastructure while the rest of the money would be distributed to the entities that normally receive revenue from property taxes - primarily the school district.

Attorney Mark Engel, attorney for the Fairland School Board, said school district consent and approval are required. The TIF does not change property that is currently taxable,

meaning the board will not lose any current income, he said.

Cash flow for the first years may be minimal, but will increase with every year. A good stream of revenue is projected by year 2010, he said.

Although this TIF is set up to run for 30 years, if the project is paid off early, the money goes back to the jurisdiction.

The county can also use the revenue for matching funds for grants meaning less bonds will be needed, so more money will go to the district.

The school board unanimously approved the resolution for tax increment financing - as long as the county and developers move forward by Jan. 1. School board member Bob Mayo said his main concern was that the school district would lose money

and those concerns have been addressed, completely, he said.

&#8220I think it is going to be a win-win situation,” Mayo said. &#8220It will have a great impact on the community as well as the district. I'm one hundred percent behind it.”

Developers have been in the permit process and are putting together financing.

Dale Manns said construction on the project will hopefully begin in 2006.