Cabell OKs TIF district in Milton
HUNTINGTON — A proposal to establish a tax increment financing district, or TIF, in Milton for the renovation and restoration of the Morris Memorial Hospital gained approval Thursday from the Cabell County Commission, although a couple of citizens said they opposed the idea.
The commission voted unanimously to approve the submission of an application to the West Virginia Development Office for approval of a tax increment development district for the economic development project in Milton.
Among those raising concerns was Judy Rule, director of the Cabell County Public Library.
“I found this is the fifth TIF project that has been approved by Cabell County in the last 10 years,” Rule said. “We don’t want to stand in the way of economic progress. However, I would ask that you look strongly at any other TIF projects that would come along. A lot of funding for the development is going into the TIF programs rather than to the county commission, the Board of Education or the library or the park board.”
Milton resident Karen Cremeans was concerned that the new development would increase property values around it and that would lead to increased property taxes.
“Then we also have to worry about annexations taking place if more development comes as a result of this project,” Cremeans said.
The creation of a TIF district would not cost the county or taxpayers any money, according to John Stump, an attorney
with the law firm Steptoe & Johnson, which is representing the developer.
“A TIF incentivizes economic development growth from the growth itself,” Stump explained. “You’re spurring economic development from the development itself.”
Stump says a TIF district allows municipalities to earmark property tax revenue from increases in assessed values within a designated area.
“Creation of a TIF district does not increase anyone’s taxes,” he said.
Stump says the way a TIF works is that an undeveloped site, like the one in Milton, with almost no assessed value for tax purposes, increases in value in that district as it brings in development. The proposal is to use proceeds from the TIF to support the issue of up to $15 million in bonds by the county government to use for aspects of the project.
“So the increase in the assessed value in the district is what pays off the bonds that are used to pay for the public infrastructure,” he said. “It doesn’t take one dollar from the county commission.”
Developers say the creation of a TIF district is necessary for the installation of public infrastructure such as roads, water and sewer.
Jeffrey A. Hoops II, who is spearheading the estimated $150 million project, said the project is dependent on the county and state’s approval of a TIF district.
“We are not getting any historical tax credits for this project, so without the creation of a tax increment development district we would not be able to continue development of this project,” he said.
Work has already begun to transform the former hospital into a resort to be called the Grand Patrician Resort.
The preliminary plans include a 100-room hotel with additional extended-stay suites, indoor/outdoor pool facilities, grand ballroom and conference center, a 250-seat wedding chapel, a gym and workout facility, a medical clinic and physical rehab center, a restaurant, a grand fountain in front of the hotel, youth and adult baseball fields, youth and adult softball fields, soccer fields, an activity complex and trails, an amphitheater, a nine-hole par-3 golf course, stables and horse trails, residential townhomes and public access to all facilities.
“We have still got a few hurdles to go, but I think once everyone sees what we have in store, I believe it is going to drive more excitement for the town of Milton,” Hoops said. “We think eventually this is going to be one of the destination spots in West Virginia.”