|Gold Beach studies urban renewal|
|Written by Jane Stebbins, Pilot staff writer|
|April 12, 2013 09:11 pm|
The Gold Beach City Council is soliciting input for its proposed Urban Renewal Plan, which could include everything from better signage to construction of a recreation center.
The plan, first presented in February, was crafted to address some of the city’s goals to provide more nature-based tourism projects, develop a more vibrant downtown core and port, improve the quality of life in the Gold Beach through cultural and recreational amenities, and enhance the beauty of the business district through landscape development and improved building facades.
Another city goal is to utilize a “beach walk” concept to enhance accessibility from the Rogue River to the South Beach Park.
Development of such a plan will next require the creation of a district, which then makes the city eligible for funding to make improvements to “blighted areas” within a municipality.
The meeting at which the planning commission will outline recommendations is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. April 22 in the City Hall council chambers.
The proposed maximum indebtedness of the plan is $8.24 million, based on a financial analysis of a 25-year plan developed by Elaine Howard Consulting of Lake Oswego. That figure is based on the assessed valuation of property within the city and its anticipated increase over 25 years, the typical length of an urban renewal plan.
Taxpayers won’t see an increase in their bills — but special districts will be directly affected.
The theory behind urban renewal is that if these properties and surrounding infrastructure are upgraded, they contribute more to the local economy and to special tax districts that receive property tax revenues.
The city of Gold Beach completed an urban renewal feasibility study last spring that primarily encompasses the commercial core of the city.
If the plan is adopted, the county assessor calculates the total assessed value — the “frozen base” — of the area. Revenue growth above that base — generated from the increase in assessed values in that area over time — is called the “tax increment”; urban renewal districts are typically funded by that.
The tax increment revenue collected by special taxing districts — schools, libraries and fire departments among them — are redirected to the urban renewal district. The districts still collect property tax revenue due to them from the assessed value of the frozen base, but any increases go to the agency for use in the renewal area.
In many urban renewal areas, that growth from new investment — and subsequent increased valuation — might not have occurred if it weren’t for the urban renewal program.
While property taxpayers will not see an increase in property taxes, a line item will appear on their tax statements for the urban renewal agency. Any increases that are the result of increased assessments are merely redirected to the renewal agency.
And once the urban renewal program ends, revenue to those taxing entities reverts back to them, resulting in dramatic revenue increases. For example, the Curry County School District, in 2039-2040, could see an additional $347,000 more in revenue, the city of Gold Beach an additional $203,000; and Southwestern Oregon Community College, $62,000. Total revenues for taxing districts after the year 2040 could total almost $1 million in its first year, Howard indicated in her report.
City officials have listed 11 possible amenities and improvements that could be done under the terms of such a plan.
The first listed is matching grants or loans to existing businesses to spent on updating their infrastructure — complying with building codes or providing ADA access — to making improvements to facades.
Some of the larger projects proposed include building a scenic bikeway from the port to the beach, building a family entertainment or recreation project — a cinema, bowling alley or recreation center — and fairground and performing-arts facility upgrades.
Other options could including providing small grants or loans to help businesses get started; improvements to existing parking areas, a unified signage plan and way-finding system; constructing sidewalks and making streetscape improvements.
An urban renewal agency can also purchase land on which other public amenities can be built.