TROY — City leaders hope an economic development consultant will help Troy get more mileage out of its only tax increment financing district before it expires.
Troy's tax increment financing district was established in 1997, covering an underdeveloped area along Interstate 55-70 and extending to downtown Troy. It covers the east side of the interchange with Illinois 162 and extends along Edwardsville Road into downtown.
Although approximately 40,000 cars pass the district every day, Troy leaders say it has not developed as much as they would like. With 10 years remaining to the district's span, they have hired consultant Economic Development Resources to help them maximize its use for the second half of its run.
"The recession has really hurt us, and we're trying to rethink it," said City Administrator Jeff Soland. "There has been some development, but we need to better focus our efforts."
Troy Mayor Al Adomite said they would like to figure out where the area has been, and where they want to go in the future.
"We've made some significant progress with improvement of the interchange, and those gains were made in the middle of a recession," Adomite said. "We want to take a look at what more opportunities could be, two-thirds of the way through the lifespan of the TIF."
Tax increment financing districts set aside property tax increases from its territory into a separate fund, which can be used for infrastructure and development incentives for a set period of time, usually about 23 years.
The consultant will review the current plan for the district, evaluate Troy's development processes, and recommend options to spur development within the district.
Among the objectives: a variety of retail and regional office employers, to provide both jobs and tax revenue for the residents and the city.
Adomite said overall the TIF district has been positive, with the majority of its funds used for infrastructure, such as a streetscaping project on Main Street. Meanwhile, the downtown area is attracting new businesses, Adomite said.
"We're fuller than we were when I took office a year ago," he said. "It's not just about business retention, but in any community like ours, downtown is your community's identity. If you don't work hard to reinvest in downtown ... you risk losing your identity."
Adomite said the previous two mayoral administrations achieved significant improvements in the city's transportation infrastructure by using the fund.
In fiscal year 2013, the Troy TIF district received about $408,282, almost entirely from property taxes. Of that, Troy spent about $250,000 on the reconstruction of Main Street, according to its annual financial report to the state comptroller's office.
The financial report also lists no funds allocated for marketing new sites for development, while three years earlier, about $15,000 was spent on marketing during the fiscal year.
The fund balance at the end of fiscal year 2013 was $1.6 million. Over the course of the life of the TIF district, it has accrued about $3.45 million, with about $1.12 million spent on improvements such as road reconstruction and streetscape.
The real value of development in the district, officials said, would be in the effect new businesses would have for Troy.
"We need to move away from our reliance on property taxes in Troy and help improve goods and services within our city limits, so people don't have to leave Troy to find the things they need," Adomite said. "With that will come a greater sales tax base and allow us to diversify our revenues. Those would be the goals we'd want to achieve."
Soland agreed. "There are a wide array of things we could use. There's not a lot of retail development in Troy at all," he said. "We'd like to expand that, and keep some of the dollars here."
Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at email@example.com or 618-239-2507.