Board agrees to fund recovery facility in ’13

Commissioners also comment on Stillwater, Oakdale, TIF districts

Washington County will pay more than $2.7 million toward the Ramsey/Washington Resource Recovery project’s 2013 budget after the Board of Commissioners approved the county’s portion of the Newport facility’s budget Tuesday.

The decision comes more than one month after the Resource Recovery Project Board adopted a resolution Oct. 18 recommending the County Board approve the 2013 budget. The delay in approving the Resource Recovery Project budget occurred after some commissioners questioned if the county should continue funding the facility.

The budget commissioners approved Tuesday includes a management agreement with facility vendor, Resource Recovery Technologies, joint organic waste management programs for businesses, general outreach, policy evaluation and a hauler rebate.

The total 2013 Resource Recovery Project budget is more than $10.6 million. The two counties contribute funds based on a formula that has Ramsey County paying 73 percent and Washington County paying 27 percent.

Under that formula, Ramsey County pays more than $7.3 million and Washington County pays more slightly more than $2.7 million. Remaining budget funds come from interest income and the facility’s budget fund balance.

Revenue for Washington County’s share comes from the county’s Environmental Charge.

In other action, commissioners dealt with three development-related issues, one involving a public hearing on modifications to redevelopment plans for an area in Newport and two involving comments on TIF districts in Stillwater and Oakdale.

Tuesday’s public hearing was on the county’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority modification to a redevelopment plan for the Red Rock Gateway commercial, industrial and residential properties in Newport.

The HRA and Newport are working on plans to redevelop an area of aging, isolated industrial and commercial sites in the northern tip of the city at the intersection of Interstate 494 and U.S. Highway 61.

The HRA prepared a modification to Redevelopment Project Area 2 to include 133 parcels in the area for potential development that matches current redevelopment in Newport.

Modifying the redevelopment project area sets the legal basis for reimbursement of any future redevelopment expenses and activities that include acquisition, demolition, relocation and infrastructure improvements, some that might occur before establishment of a potential tax increment financing district.

Project areas are usually established at the same time as a TIF district is set up, but the HRA is not requesting establishment of a TIF district for the area at this time. Including the Redevelopment Project Area parcels allows for use of future TIF funds in the area.

No one spoke at Tuesday’s public hearing. Newport city officials held a Nov. 1 public hearing on the change and no comments were received.

In two other separate actions, commissioners approved comments to the cities of Stillwater and Oakdale regarding changes to the cities’ TIF districts.

Under TIF, any increase, or increment, in property taxes in a TIF district are “captured” by the city instead of being sent to taxing districts such as the county or school districts.

Stillwater wants to expand its TIF District 4 project area to include the entire city. TIF District 4 consists primarily of parcels in the Stillwater Marketplace anchored by Cub Foods and Target. Changes in the plan call for captured tax increment funds to be used throughout Stillwater to pay for public improvements including street construction, parking facilities and right-of-way for sewer and water facilities.

The Stillwater City Council holds a Dec. 4 public hearing on its plan and the county’s comments will be included in the heading record.

Oakdale city officials want to modify its TIF district created in 1997 to increase the city’s budget for affordable housing projects. The Oakdale City Council held a public hearing on the changes Tuesday night and the county’s comments were included in the record.

The Oakdale TIF district is made up of a 100-unit senior rental housing facility at 1033 Gershwin Ave. North. The original budget was $2.1 million and the proposed modification increase the budget by $1.38 million.

Oakdale’s TIF district has generated $1.3 million in increment and is estimated to generate an additional $1.387 million over the remainder of the district. The city plans to use the additional funds to continue providing affordable housing, pooling for other eligible housing projects in the city and administrative costs.

The county’s role in TIF district creation is reserved to comments on the plan. The county has no authority to approve or deny the creation or modification of a TIF district.