Waterville Considers Forming Downtown Redevelopment District

Waterville is considering a Downtown Redevelopment District in order to fund reinvestment into the downtown area. An economic development company, Montrose Group, provided a proposal to Waterville City Council on April 26. MIRROR PHOTO BY KAREN GERHARDINGER

BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — With 10 properties on the National Register of Historic Places, Waterville is ripe for creating a Downtown Redevelopment District (DRD), Waterville City Council learned during its April 26 meeting.

Waterville Mayor Tim Pedro and administrator Jon Gochenour invited The Montrose Group to present information about forming a DRD, after meeting with business owners who are concerned about maintaining a thriving downtown area.

“This could be another tool in our toolbox,” Pedro said of the economic development tool.

A DRD operates in a similar way as a Tax Increment Financing (TIF), in that a portion of the taxes generated from a property valuation increase are used to fund improvements within the district. 

Nate Green, economic development director for The Montrose Group, provided an example: The owner of a $1 million property invests $1 million into the property. As a result of the investment, the property increases in value and has a $20,000 increase in property taxes. Of that increase in tax, 70 percent – or $14,000 – is placed into the DRD fund.

“That’s how revenue is generated. Nothing changes for the property owners unless there’s an increase in the value of their building,” Green said, adding that citizens are not affected.

The revenue in the DRD can then be used to invest in the buildings within the district, in terms of interest-free or forgivable loans. A revolving loan fund could be complementary to traditional bank financing, especially for small businesses and new start-ups that have a difficult time securing adequate financing, added Jamie Beier Grant, manager of Economic and Workforce Development for Montrose Group. 

“A bank might say, ‘You have a great company, but we can only finance 70 percent.’ This could be the gap financing. We don’t want to compete with private lenders,” she said.

The city is considering a contract with The Montrose Group to handle the process of setting up a DRD. That would include meeting with business property owners, determining which properties would be placed in the district, hosting public hearings and coordinating with the city’s legal team.

The city would need to have an economic development plan in place as part of the requirement for a DRD. That plan would identify goals for development within the area. 

If council decides to hire The Montrose Group by its May meeting, a DRD could be in place by the end of the year. 

During the meeting, council also:

• Heard that Tina Nicolai plans to retire from the police department after 25 years of service on Saturday, June 19. Plans are underway to recruit and host a civil service exam for a new officer.

• Listened to Waterville resident Kelsie Hoagland, who is president of the board for TARTA, explain the transportation agency’s plan to replace its two property tax levies of 2.5 mills with a .5-percent sales tax. TARTA also wants to add Lucas County as a voting member along with the seven current municipalities – including Waterville. In order to make these changes, council would need to pass a resolution in July.

• Learned that the Fallen Timbers Union Cemetery District board of trustees will meet on Monday, May 10 at 6:00 p.m. Council member Rod Frey was reappointed as a representative for the city.

• Approved a $29,000 contract for Proudfoot Associates to provide engineer services for the 2021 street paving program. 

• Approved a $19,400 contract for American Fireworks to provide fireworks for July 4. 

• Awarded a $491,204 contract to FET Construction Service for the installation of seven streetlights in the downtown area.

• Approved a $23,535 contract with Motorola Solutions to purchase six portable and one mobile radio for the police department. 

• Learned that Republic Services has scheduled its unlimited pickup days for Saturdays, June 12 and August 21 (Area A), and June 19 and August 28 (Area B).

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