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Percent of Property Tax in Certain Areas Goes Towards City Improvements

Effective January 1st, a percentage of property taxes will be placed in a separate fund called a TIRZ to allow for city improvements.
Effective January 1st 2014, around 1,500 acres of the city of Abilene will be included in a special tax zone called a TIRZ, or Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone.

The zone extends as far north as Interstate 20 and as far south as South 7th street. The zone includes both the Ambler and the Pine corridors and the South Downtown area. About 40% of the proposed projects would take place in the South Downtown area.

Something similar to the TIRZ was created in the 1980s and resulted in many improvements in the downtown area. The TIRZ will be in effect for thirty years.

The values of the properties within the zone are "frozen" as of now and once a developer builds on that property, the property value will of course increase. The difference between the value that the property is frozen at and the new value after development is the money that will be put into the TIRZ fund.

Therefore, the TIRZ zone will not cost citizens any extra money out of their pockets. Citizens can expect to see developments within the zone over an extended period of time.

The City Council passed this tax zone in the last council meeting and had hopes of the county joining in on their revitalization efforts, however that did not happen.

During Tuesday morning's Commissioners Court meeting, the commissioners decided on a "no motion", meaning that although none of the commissioners spoke for or against the partnership with the city, at this time, they will not be taking action.

Without the participation of the county, the money raised by the TIRZ will be significantly less, as 60% of property tax goes to the city and 40% goes to the county. Without that 40%, the city will have to make a shorter list of proposed projects, however, they are proceeding with their TIRZ plans.

The main reasons for the county not wanting to participate in the TIRZ at this time is because they do not see that they can continue to operate without all of their portion of the property taxes. The county's revenue is 84% from property tax and because they have other priorities, they cannot afford to lose a portion of their greatest source of income.

Commissioner Chuck Statler says that one of the main things that the county is trying to do currently is to increase the salaries of some Taylor County employees, such as law enforcement officers. As of now, many of the employees of Taylor County are being paid up to 15% less than employees of comparable counties.

The meeting between the city representatives and the county commissioners ended with an agreement for the commissioners to keep an "open door" and to hopefully join the city in this improvement effort as soon as it is more financially viable.

For more information on the TIRZ, visit the city's website.
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