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City talks airport TIF district

The Monongalia County Commission approved the documentation this week authorizing financial firm Crews & Associates to begin analysis of a potential Morgantown Municipal Airport TIF district.
The increment generated by the district would be used to help finance the local match of the city’s $50 million runway extension project as well as the development of a nearby commerce park. The city, state or some combination of the two will have to come up with at least $5 million to accompany federal dollars.
In a TIF district, a city or county — in this case the district would straddle both — designates an area in need of development and a baseline tax is locked in based on the value of the property in that area. Taxes generated beyond that designated value go back into the district to fund infrastructure improvements.
The city provided the county commission with a map designating a 3.31 square-mile district, though the boundaries are likely to change and will ultimately be determined by the commission.
Should the district ultimately get the go-ahead from the state’s development office, City Manager Paul Brake explained that it likely wouldn’t begin generating funds until year three of the five-year project, which will involve moving more than four million cubic yards of dirt from the commerce park site to build a foundation for the runway extension.
The city now estimates there could be as much as $13 million in additional funds needed for coal removal and disposal. The federal dollars coming from the FAA will not reimburse for that work.
The job of Crews & Associates is to look at all the variables and determine if the creation of such a district is feasible and advantageous.
The Monongalia County Development Authority will own and operate the commerce park, which will start at just under 93 acres. The MCDA plans to hire an engineering firm in the coming weeks to put together layout designs.
Part of getting state approval for the TIF district is proving commitment from at least one potential developer.
“That can be anything from a single development to a multi-structure development. We have people at the national level that we’re talking with who are interested in that,” MCDA legal counsel Rocky Gianola told members of Morgantown City Council.
Gianola went on to say that by time the park is complete, it could potentially double or even triple the amount of acreage available within the city for development.
“This project is, in my opinion, and I’ve lived here my entire life, probably one of the biggest, most important projects for the city of Morgantown,” Gianola said, explaining that the MCDA has invested $1.2 million in the effort thus far.
Morgantown Area Partnership President and CEO Russ Rogerson agreed with Gianola’s assessment.
“I look forward to having 90 developable acres in the city of Morgantown and what we can do with it,” Rogerson said. “I can tell you there are projects out there that this site would be put in front of and strongly considered. I’m confident we would be a winner. I’m looking forward to it.”

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