The Issues: Urban Renewal District
Many ask what is an Urban Renewal District? What does it do? This is a major topic this election season at the City, County, and State level. Much of the discussion revolves on how Urban Renewal Agencies are to use the money it collects – for business attracting enhancements, city infrastructure, public buildings. It is the City Council’s job to determine which projects and programs the funds should be used for Canby’s Urban Renewal District was created in November of 1999 and it was defined then as:
“The Urban Renewal Area is a single geographic area with a single contiguous boundary in which a variety of activities and projects are contemplated to eliminate blight and the causes of blight and intended to create an environment in which the private sector may develop uses compatible with the purposes of this plan.” (http://www.ci.canby.or.us/URD/documents/UR_Plan_Amendments2009.pdf) (pg4)
Our “District” located on page 18 of our Urban Renewal Plan (http://www.ci.canby.or.us/URD/documents/UR_ReportOnPlan1999.pdf) is made up of the Canby Pioneer Industrial Park (CPIP), continuing along 99E and widening around downtown on both sides of 99E, and finishing at Berg Parkway.
So what makes this a delicate topic as well as decision is that the money comes from Tax Incremental Financing. This means property values were frozen at 1999 values and as those values increase, the incremental amount of tax money comes from local government entities. So, the increased taxes that would go to schools, community colleges, education service districts (4H Extension), cities, counties, and fire districts go to the Urban Renewal District. ( http://cms.oregon.gov/dor/PTD/docs/504-623.pdf)
Initially the projects have been used in the CPIP to build the infrastructure of Canby – roads, sewer, water lines, etc., to draw new business to Canby. Then, the projects have been moved around the district:
2nd Ave, City Parking lot at the end of 2nd, and other street improvements. We have used Urban Renewal funds for façade improvements, administrative costs, and most recently the 1st Ave redevelopment. Some of the anticipated projects are: finishing Sequoia Parkway to connect to SE 13th Ave; extending Berg Parkway to NE 3rd Ave; improvements to Wait and Community Parks; building a new library; hall; and improvements to 99E. new city
As Mayor, I would like to see a revamping of the façade program, so that buildings can keep up with improvements. Also, to look at additional programs to spur economic investment and sustainable jobs for Canby. In regards to URD funds, I think it is also important to see the entire scope in terms of funding these programs. What parts of projects are not covered by URD funds? How will a given project sustain itself financially once it is complete? How are other programs, like schools and the fire department, being impacted by the council’s decision with URD funds?
The URD needs your voice. It is your Councilors and Mayor that dictate these funds, and your input is important. The next council meeting where we will be making decisions regarding URD funds is Wednesday, August 22 at at Council
Chambers. Further discussion and decision making will be conducted regarding improvements to and/or a new library.