WEST MILTON — Calling the proposal “too costly and too risky,” the Milton-Union school board has declined to approve the financing plan for the Stillwater Crossing development.
In a letter to the village council, the board explained that it could not support the tax increment financing (TIF) plan for the Stillwater Crossings development as proposed.
The development agreement for the project required school approval on the TIF to be able to move forward.
“Based on our review of this information, we do not believe that Stillwater Crossings as currently proposed is affordable for our taxpayers. Therefore, we cannot support the proposed TIF. Simply put, it is too costly and too risky,” the letter to council read.
The board explained that the projected enrollment growth — about 15-20 percent at full build-out — would require the district to seek another new money levy on top of the new money that the district already plans to pursue.
As proposed, Stillwater Crossing would include a Randall House assisted living facility and senior cottages, restaurants, professional and commercial spaces, and approximately 132 single-family homes. The 100-acre, mixed-use development would be located south of the Stillwater Golf Course on State Route 571 and Iddings Road.
“The board spent a lot of time deliberating whether it or not was a good move for the schools and, in the end, decided against it,” Superintendent Brad Ritchey said.
Municipal Manager Matt Kline said the village is still planning for the development and is looking into alternate financing plans, including a “non-school TIF.”
“We respect their process and we believe we understand their decision, although we disagree with their conclusion,” Kline said.
With a non-school TIF, school district consent can be bypassed if the municipality uses money generated by the TIF to reimburse the district before paying for infrastructure costs.
Under a TIF, new property taxes generated go into a fund to pay back the property owner for public improvements over a period of years. The school district would receive the same amount of revenue as it did when the property was undeveloped, and new property taxes are diverted to pay down the debt on public infrastructure. Over the course of time, there will be property tax payments that will exceed the annual payment that is due for the debt, and that money would go to the school district.
In the letter, the board expressed its support for the commercial aspects of the development, adding that it would support a development agreement that decreased or eliminated the number of single-family homes.
“We are willing to consider a TIF proposal that reduces infrastructure costs and would not require the school district to seek an additional new money levy,” the board added.
Kline said the village is unwilling to give up on the project because it would bring jobs and increased revenue to the community.
The village still faces an April 29 deadline to rezone the property and finalize a financing plan. Kline said he is hopeful that there will be a new development agreement to present to council by their next meeting on April 11.
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