City seeks input on how to spend $441,000

by CHRIS PETERSON
Editor | November 11, 2020 7:00 AM

The city of Columbia Falls will have about $441,000 in tax increment financing monies to spend next year.

Folks can weigh in on how the city might spend the funds at a public hearing at 7 p.m. Dec. 7 in council chambers. Past suggestions have included improving the streetlights on Nucleus Avenue, improving Internet service and rebuilding streets.

One year the city used the funds for emergency repairs on the street adjacent to the Nord building, after large voids were found under the sidewalk.

TIF funds are created through a special district that includes businesses on Nucleus Avenue and Highway 2.

A TIF sets aside the additional property tax that would have normally been collected when the TIF was formed.

For example, if a building was worth a $100,000 when the TIF was formed, and its property taxes went up over time by $2,000, instead of the $2,000 going to the various entities like the schools or the county, the additional $2,000 goes into the TIF.

TIF monies can only be used for projects inside the TIF. Over the years the city’s TIF has grown as commercial development has grown.

Not all projects get completed in that year, even if they’re allocated.

Last year the city earmarked about $350,000 in TIF funds toward Twelfth Avenue West, as the road is in bad shape and it now serves the new Cedar Palace Medical Center.

The city, however, is still awaiting word on whether federal grants will come through, which could pay for as much as 80% of the roughly $1.6 million project.

Last year the city also committed $15,000 toward irrigation and beautification of South Nucleus Avenue. Peggy Newman has maintained the garden at the corner for years, but it has no irrigation. The plan would landscape the corner further and add in-ground irrigation.

That project is in the works, but won’t be completed this year.

The city also set aside $75,000 for alleyway and sidewalk improvements and about $32,500 toward Nucleus Avenue lights.