While we respect the Payson Unified School Board and administration for fighting on behalf of our children's education, we think the Town of Payson's increment financing proposal is a good way to get the redevelopment of Main Street on the fast track.
The town has proposed diverting some property tax money from the school district in order to fund a variety of programs to help infuse life into the Main Street area. This could mean that property owners within PUSD may have to pay a few more dollars in taxes in order to make up the difference to the school district.
But we think those few dollars are worth it.
Even the school district figures that the owner of a $100,000 home would pay only $21 more in property taxes during the first year of the tax increment financing program. The town figures the cost will be $1.91 -- or about 16 cents a month. The actual figure is likely to be somewhere in between.
Even at $21, this would be money well-invested. The town would use these funds to invigorate the Main Street area by:
- providing incentives for existing business owners to upgrade the appearance of their buildings.
- teaming up with private business owners to provide off-street parking, alleviating one of the area's biggest problems and impediments to improvement.
- providing grants to help residents renovate deteriorating homes and build affordable housing in the area.
- providing low-interest loans to help Main Street businesses get started.
- widening streets, adding sidewalks and improving water and sewer mains in the area.
Because the actual effects on property taxes are not known, the town should find a way to place a limit on how much extra homeowners would have to pay. This would keep expenses to taxpayers from getting out of hand.
The tax incentive program should also have a sunset provision -- perhaps as short as two years -- meaning the Town Council will have to vote to extend the program. This would provide further protection if the program proves to be a problem in unforeseen ways.
In the long run, this investment will pay off. The rising value of Main Street properties will return more tax revenues to both town and school district coffers -- and the heart of Payson will be reborn.