LDDA director hails tax-increment approval

LONGMONT – The Longmont Downtown Development Authority can focus on projects to attract more “fun, niche market things” downtown, after voters Tuesday said the special district can float $25 million in bonds.

About 2,500 voters in the special district downtown approved a tax-increment financing measure that allows the Longmont Downtown Development Authority to float bonds for infrastructure projects. The measure passed with 165 votes in favor and 68 against. In general, tax-increment financing allows property tax collected from businesses to be used for projects in a special district, rather than going into a general pot of tax money.

Now that the vote passed, members in the special district will be able to refresh a “visioning process” to discuss how downtown should look in the future, said Kimberlee McKee, executive director of the LDDA. The group is about one year into its focus on bringing more arts- and entertainment-related businesses downtown, for example, she said.

“This gives us the ability to plan – long-term – which projects we want to focus on,” McKee said. “(It helps bring) fun, niche-market things that people want into downtown.”

Tax-increment financing funds were used to do the current alleyscape project downtown, for example, McKee said. Some 19 business owners have spent $213,000 so far this year on alleyscape projects, getting reimbursed for about $43,000 of their costs from the LDDA, McKee said.

The alleyscape projects made business look much more welcoming, McKee said, pointing to some new concrete work being done in which businesses were able to get a special rate related to other improvements in the area.

Without the voter approval, the tax-increment financing approval would have expired at the end of 2013. It now runs through 2033. Residents, business owners and people who lease property in the downtown district were eligible to vote for the measure.

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