R’land wants help from county to pay off Renaissance TIF

AS SEEN IN THE… NORTHSIDE SUN

Ridgeland city officials are likely counting on Madison County to help pay off the tax-increment financing (TIF) bond for phase three of Renaissance at Colony Park.

But at least one county official won’t support backing the TIF until a lawsuit involving the project is settled.

The Ridgeland mayor and Board of Aldermen approved the TIFs recently, and approved the financing plans based on the county’s support. However, it was unclear at press time if the county would back the controversial proposal.

“Before it comes to the board, the lawsuit needs to be resolved,” said District Three Supervisor Gerald Steen.

Steen, who represents Ridgeland, was the only supervisor who would talk to the Sun about the project. He was referring to the suit brought by the Ridgeland Citizens for Responsible Development. The group is appealing a zoning decision by the city that essentially clears the way for the phase three development.

The development would be located on property along Highland Colony Parkway south of the Old Agency Road roundabout. It would include a Costco Wholesale warehouse. Opponents want the city’s 2015 decision to change the C2 zoning struck from the books. Zoning was changed in 2015 and amended again this year to clear the way for the Costco. The matter was still pending before the court at press time.

Meanwhile, Ridgeland recently passed a resolution to award Renaissance developers up to $12.5 million in TIF dollars to go toward construction of the project. TIF bonds are issued by municipalities and used to reimburse developers for the cost of public infrastructure related to projects. The debts are retired with the increase in property and sales tax dollars generated by the projects. Ridgeland has agreed to give up 50 percent sales tax and 100 percent of increases associated with the phase three development, once the work is completed.

Estimates provided to the Sun by opponent Gerald Beard show that even with city diversions, the county would have to give up around $131,000 a year in property tax revenue to retire the debt. The estimate is based on a 4 percent interest rate, over a 15-year period. Sales tax diversions from the city would total around $993,620, Beard said.

Before the county considers giving up its property tax revenue, the lawsuit must be settled, Steen said.

Steen said he is not opposed to a Costco, and wants to see the store come to Ridgeland.

Supervisors Trey Baxter and Sheila Jones, who also represent the Northside, couldn’t be reached for comment by phone or e-mail.

While Steen wants to wait for the phase three suit to be settled, he would support awarding TIF dollars for the phase two project. Last month, the Ridgeland board approved increasing the already existing Colony Park TIF by up to $7.5 million. Of that, up to $5 million would go to Renaissance phase two, and up to $2.5 million would go to the Township at Colony Park, a nearby development.

“I can support that because I believe it will benefit the area where it is being proposed,” Steen said. “It’s not unusual for the county to support TIFs. We supported a TIF for the Mercedes dealership in Ridgeland and the Sam’s Club in Madison.” Under terms of that deal, the city would allocate 100 percent of the developments’ property taxes and 50 percent of the sales taxes to retire the debt.

No proposals had been brought to the Madison board at press time.