Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

December 27, 2012

Business district progress makes wait worth it

Ezra Mann
Pauls Valley Democrat — Problems like a drought and potential job losses weighed heavily on Pauls Valley leaders much like many communities this past year, but one positive note has come from years of work on a long term economic plan.

After five years of collecting ad valorem taxes through property value growth, some of those funds can now be used due to a recent city council approval for a road project in the Tax Incremental Financing District, according to a recent discussion with City Manager James Frizell and Mayor Tim Gamble. It’s a big deal since it will allow them to finally take a step toward infrastructure improvements as a part of attracting new businesses to the area.

 “The council had a vision… we knew that was going to start growing out there in the business district and we knew we were going to have to do something,” said Frizell. “We knew that we were going to have to start preparing ourselves for infrastructure improvements out there… we needed something in the bank to be able to help us through when we were going to do things out there so we created the TIF District.”

Since the plan for the district was approved in late April of 2007, the district has collected around $400,000 dollars and while not enough to cover all long term goals, it is an important stepping stone, said Gamble. The funds have only come from the growth of property value of structures built in the district since that approval time and include examples like the Wal-Mart Super Center and McDonalds.

According to the 2007 plan, the district itself falls primarily on the western side of town and includes from the I-35 right-of way south to the State Highway 19 exit, bordered on the south by Rush Creek, on the north by the corporate limits of the City and US Highway 77. Frizell feels much more comfortable about this district getting off on the right start due to the money collected at least having a start versus other cities like Norman who have only started collecting money for improvements after the fact.

“It’s hard to make infrastructure improvements because it’s not just the city of Pauls Valley, it’s every town,” said Frizell, adding how the improvements will include along with new paved roads updated utilities and drainage works. “You have hard time putting money aside for improvements in the future… A lot of time TIF districts are created as a business comes in. We did it the way it was designed to be, we created the district anticipating growth… so it would help anybody that came.”

It was during the meeting that Frizell confirmed that money from other tax areas like a half cent sales tax for road work could also be used if needed and the first business to benefit from this TIF district work is a recently confirmed Tractor Supply store. Part of that early phase was helped along when council members approved a lot split recommended by planning and zoning at 104 and 106. N. Indian Meridian in order to allow the company to have all the land it needed for the space.

As businesses are attracted to the district, more funds would be made available from the property tax collection, spurring even more development. However, the amount of time these taxes can be collected runs out after the 15 ½ year point and actually decreases from the 100 percent to 50 percent of property value growth after the coming year, according to the 2007 plan.

This increases the need to attract these businesses as soon as possible in order to honor an agreement that will return additional property tax growth money to areas like the Whitebead School District and the County who have collected and depend on the base amount, said Gamble.

“We’re starting to grow,” said Frizell. “It’s a domino effect... you’re going to start seeing businesses start moving in out there because that’s where the traffic is, you put your businesses where the high traffic counts are.”