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Talent Urban Renewal District would cost more later

The financial impacts on other taxing districts of a proposed new Talent Urban Renewal District would be low in initial years, but would rise to over $1 million annually by the end of a 30-year life span for a couple of entities, according to projections from TURA.

The city of Talent would forego $1,236,956 in property tax revenue in 2053 compared to $33,548 in the initial year of 2024 if the district is formed. Jackson County Fire District No. 5 world forego $1,223,942 in the final year and $33,548 at the start.

Talent officials have been exploring the formation of a district to help deal with damage from the 2020 Almeda fire and to support other town needs. Proposed district boundaries would incorporate areas where houses, commercial buildings and manufactured home parks burned.

Projected revenues and impacts were unveiled for the first time by TURA at the March 16 City Council meeting. Elaine Howard, a consultant to TURA, explained the impacts for the projections she put together with Tiberius Solutions.

Fire District 5 officials declined to comment on the projections, saying they would wait until information is forthcoming from the Jackson County Assessor’s Office. They have said that loss of the tax revenue could potentially force a tax levy election by district patrons to support emergency service operations.

“Nothing that came out of there is what we could use to make decisions,” Fire Chief Charles Hanley said Friday. “The assessor will give the most current numbers. We wouldn’t base our number on something that a consultant says.”

Urban renewal is funded by tax increment financing. At the time an urban renewal plan is adopted, the county assessor calculates the total assessed value of the area and establishes this value as the “frozen base” for the area.

Taxes from that frozen base continue going to all of the taxing jurisdictions. Growth above the base is called the “increment.” Taxes from the increment go to the urban renewal agency for projects.

Officials from Jackson County and Talent have raised concerns about the impact formation of the district would have on operating budgets. Talent City Council can vote to form a renewal district but doesn’t need to have approval from other districts, although it must confer with them about the creation.

The projections assume that assessed value within a taxing district but outside urban renewal boundaries would increase at an annual rate of 3.6%, matching the average seen from 2012 to 2022, said Howard. Growth within the urban renewal area is assumed to exceed that pace.

Hanley said growth in the fire district has been at a 4.2% rate annually for the last 20 years. The district goes through an extensive process following state guidelines to develop two-year budgets, he said

The growth rate within an urban renewal district is usually assumed to be about 5% to 6%, said Howard. The proposed district could see a lot of rebuilding of commercial structures, homes and manufactured homes, but also contains a number of vacant parcels that could see construction, she added.

Howard has done similar projections for over 20 other urban renewal districts in the state but never calculated one where replacement of burned buildings is anticipated.

Other districts impacted directly would include Jackson County, the Jackson County Library District, Rogue Valley Transportation District, Rogue Community College, Jackson Soil and Water Conservation District, Vector Control and the 4-H Extension Service District.

Jackson County would forego $21,087 in the first year, with the number rising to $769,327 in the last, the largest amount after the city and the fire district. Vector Control would forgo the least, $450 the first year and $16,841 in 2053.

While impacts were calculated for the Phoenix-Talent School District and the Jackson County Educational Services District, those educational organizations would not be impacted because their funding comes from the state under equalization formulas.

“I’m really looking more at these short-term impacts. Those are lower than I expected,” said City Manager Jordan Rooklyn, referring to amounts from $33,000 to $77,000 in the first three years of district operations. Rooklyn had previously voiced concerns about impacts on the city budget.

The analysis showed Talent’s general fund would forego $15,731,731 in property tax revenues over 30 years, the equivalent of 19% of the anticipated total to be collected.

After the presentation, Mayor Darby Ayers-Flood allowed comments from those attending the online Zoom session, but did not allow questions.

Former Phoenix Mayor Chris Luz said Phoenix City Council had discussed the impact the proposed district would have on Phoenix residents, who are also served by Fire District 5. He said he’d like to see the Talent council address the issues raised by the fire district.

An online open house on the proposal was set for 6:30 p.m. April 27.

Reach Ashland freelance writer Tony Boom at tboomwriter@gmail.com.