Finney County Commission approves establishment of TIF District

Meghan Flynn
Garden City Telegram
The Finney County Administrative Center is located in the 300 block of North Ninth St.

The Finney County Commission approved a resolution to authorize the establishment of a Tax Incremental Finance District at Monday's regular Commission meeting. 

Finney County Economic Development Corporation is working with Western Kansas Corridor LLC on the development of property located at the northeast quadrant of the north interchange of U.S. Highway 50/400 and U.S. Highway 83. 

The developer is requesting the TIF to finance "redevelopment project costs," which are primarily anticipated with the cost of land acquisition, construction, site work and infrastructure costs. 

Lona DuVall, President/CEO of the FCEDC said the county doesn't have the authority to create a TIF, that has to be done by the city of Garden City, but Kansas law allows incorporated cities to establish a TIF outside of their corporate limits with county approval. 

The Garden City Commission will discuss setting a time and place for a public hearing to consider establishing a TIF at their regular meeting Tuesday, Nov. 16. 

DuVall said the Western Corridor TIF is the first one done within the community in a while, but is very similar to the Schulman Crossing TIF in that it is primarily a way for the developer to pay for the cost of establishing infrastructure in a bare piece of agricultural ground by way of utilities, roads, water runoff, etc.

"All of those cost quite a bit of money, so the TIF District is just an opportunity to help that developer to meet some of those costs," she said. 

The way Kansas law is written in regards to creating a TIF is the city has to make the termination that the property is either blighted or not producing as much as it could, DuVall said. 

"With this property being on the intersection of a very highly trafficked highway interchange, we would believe that it has the higher value than just what it's being currently used for," she said. 

DuVall wanted to remind people that when the TIF at Schulman Crossing was created people kept questioning why businesses didn't have to pay property tax.

The businesses will pay property tax, DuVall stressed. The only difference is instead of the county taking all of the funds upfront for the tax increment to the property, they are authorizing a portion of that for eligible expenses, which is infrastructure like streets and water and sewer and light poles, they can't build buildings with a TIF.

"What you're doing is basically just forgoing, giving yourselves a little bit of time, and giving up some of those revenues in the short-term knowing that you'll have other benefits to having the development in place," she said. 

The TIF will create commercial and light industrial sites, DuVall said, which are lacking across the county. 

"We have seen and continue to see substantial growth across the county and we simply don't have a lot of commercial and light-industrial lots available for folks who are looking, whether they're locals who are looking to move to a larger location or when they're out of town companies who are looking to move in, we struggle with finding locations to welcome them too," she said. 

Tim Hanigan, the developer and Garden City resident, said engineering is slated to be finished around the first of the year and believes that breaking ground could start in the spring and hopes to have streets and lots developed to the point where they would be on the market by fall of 2022.

DuVall said the vision of the TIF is to have commercial properties along the highway and some light industrial sites behind those. The types of businesses expected, would be truck repair shops, tire shops, etc. 

Hanigan said the site gets a lot of truck traffic, as much or more than a portion of I-70. 

"I think that the market will show that we have a real opportunity to catch semi-truck related businesses, light industrial that need access to a highway and short order," he said.

The Western Kansas Corridor TIF probably won't have the same impact as the Schulman Crossing TIF as far as sales tax goes, but it will have significant improvement in the long-term by contributing more to the tax base. 

"It's exciting to have a project like this come about," DuVall said. "It's the first of it's type in the county and it's a big step. "

"We're going to see more and more projects, development projects happening outside of the incorporated areas, so we need you to be excited about that, we need you to stay on board with that, but certainly when you have questions we want to answer those," she said. "We want to be as transparent as we can so that you guys are a real partner in the development and again can share in the enthusiasm of being a part of the growth of our great region."