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Understanding Monongalia County's TIF Projects

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STAR CITY -

If you've driven by Boyers Avenue in Star City you may notice some changes. The busy entrance into Star City is undergoing a facelift, thanks to the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) in Monongalia County.

We hear the term TIF all the time, but what do we really know about TIF districts?

I took to the streets to find out. There I found some willing to try explaining it, but most missing the boat.

TIF districts are set up in areas where development is planned. They help create public infrastructure like sidewalks, roadways and water lines, and in the long run are paid for by the developer once the project is complete.

Let's use Star City's project as an example.

A bond is paying for the streetscape and development aimed at giving Star City a grander entrance. The project is expected to cause the newly developed land's property tax to increase. And that increase in tax revenue will be used to pay back the bond in full.

"The difference between the base of the undeveloped property, and the new developed property, it's dedicated to financing the bonds that creates other improvements," said Monongalia County Commission President Eldon Callen.

TIF districts are not popular across the country. Callen said most states use tax forgiveness programs to help bring in new business, but added that he likes TIFs.

"Tax increment financing is probably one of the smartest ways to develop an area," he said. "For an area to adopt a TIF, it has to start with someone with an idea."

And Monongalia has had some, creating 9 TIF districts.

The much discussed ballpark at the University Town Center will be funded by a property tax TIF, and a sales tax TIF. TIFs were also used to create Mon General Hospital's new access road, and the Morgantown Industrial Park.

Click here for more on the Boyers Avenue Project.