The Franklin County Fiscal Court voted 5-1 Thursday to approve committing 50% of future tax revenues from development of Parcels B and C to public infrastructure costs.
The court’s approval came with conditions, though.
The local participation agreement committing 50% of its future net new tax revenues from the development is the percentage that the city had requested of the county. However, the county placed stipulations on that commitment regarding total amount and timeline.
A resolution passed by the court reads as follows:
“The County shall pledge 50% of the County’s net new revenues generated within the Downtown Frankfort Development Area until the first of the following occurs: up to $1.5 million dollars; or up to a 20-year period; or until paid off public infrastructure costs within the Development Area.”
Magistrate Sherry Sebastian was the lone “no” vote, citing concerns about making a commitment for that long.
The idea to add timeline and total funds committed caveats to the county’s TIF participation resolution was first forwarded by Magistrate Michael Mueller and later expanded on by Magistrate Lambert Moore. The court generally agreed to the terms, with the exception of Sebastian, who had suggested cutting the “20-year period” to 10 years.
Wells, who has been in support of county TIF participation for a long time, thanked the court for approving the deal. He also acknowledged that the state’s decision years ago to tear down the former convention center on Parcel B and sell the land was a less than ideal starting point for the community.
“I know it hasn’t been easy. It’s been a long process,” Wells said. “… Nobody asked for the convention center to be torn down, but now we’re moving forward and I think it’s a great opportunity for us.”
Frankfort Mayor Layne Wilkerson was on hand with city staff, as well as the city and county’s shared TIF (Tax Increment Financing) attorney Jim Parsons, to present to the court on various aspects of the agreement.
One major topic of discussion was the kind of TIF participation that the city would ask for from the state.
Magistrate J.W. Blackburn said that it concerned him that local government had been working on the TIF for over a year and that it was still unclear as to what type of state TIF they would ask for.
Wilkerson responded that he believes the city will likely ask the state for the Real Property Ad Valorem Tax TIF. He said he saw no reason not to apply for that money.
The Real Property Ad Valorem Tax TIF does not require the city to hire an independent consultant, but a mixed-use TIF does. In some communities that have gone forward with mixed-use TIFs, the independent state consultant’s report has made headlines because of adverse findings.
Wilkerson added that if experts such as Parsons recommended the city to ask for the mixed-use TIF, then he would consider it.
Magistrate Scotty Tracy questioned the findings in the only analysis that local government has seen: that of the firm Commonwealth Economics. Sebastian also asked if another analysis had been done.
Wilkerson sympathized with the magistrates’ concerns, noting that the economic impact of the project will not likely align exactly with Commonwealth Economics’ projections, but that the agreement is still worthwhile.
Tracy and Blackburn questioned whether a longstanding obligation the state has with the Capital Plaza Hotel, which sits on Wilkinson Boulevard at the western edge of Parcel B, for dedicated parking spaces is still intact.
Frankfort City Manager Tommy Russell said that it’s his belief that the developer and hotel owner Max Allen have worked out an agreement.
“It might not be a signed document, but rather a handshake between Mr. Allen and the developer,” Russell said.
Wilkerson added that his understanding is that the new garage’s occupancy rules would be flexible, and that spots wouldn’t necessarily be “dedicated” to any one business.
“My understanding is it’s going to be like the garage there now,” Wilkerson said. “Anyone can park and either go downtown or go to the hotel… There’s not going to be reserved parking for businesses.”
The county heard a first reading of its TIF ordinance at the meeting. The next step in the TIF process is for an application to be submitted to the state Cabinet for Economic Development.
The Fiscal Court heard a first reading of its budget for the next fiscal year, which begins on July 1.
Following a long and sometimes contentious budget meeting on Tuesday during which a majority of magistrates asked for changes to several items on the first-presented budget, the court saw its changes come to fruition on Thursday.
In continuation of a conversation that took place on Tuesday, Mueller mentioned again that he would like to see a joint city-county meeting regarding organizations that they jointly fund. The economic development groups Kentucky Capital Development Corp. and Downtown Frankfort Inc. (DFI) both had their funding requests denied by the court on Tuesday.
KCDC’s county funding was even cut a second year in a row — from $100,000 to $85,000.
Mueller mentioned that it would be optimal for the city and county to “get on the same page” about those organizations.
The court also approved a flurry of appointments and reappointments to county boards, including the library board, the planning commission, board of zoning adjustments, Farmdale Water District, zoning adjustments, tourism commission, ethics commission and tax appeals board.
One appointment discussed was that of Scott Wooldridge to the Farmdale Water District. Only Magistrate Marti Booth voted no, but Wells brought up the court’s prior refusal to reappoint Richard Tanner to the board; Wells, who voted with Moore and Booth to reappoint Tanner then, said that he was a great member of the board.