DDA approves draft TIF Plan for city discussion

MANISTEE — The Downtown Development Authority and Manistee City Council will start discussing its Development Plan and Tax Increment Financing Plan, which has been a long process in development.

On Wednesday, the DDA unanimously approved a draft of the plan, which now moves forward to a joint session between the city and DDA board members.

Currently, the DDA is funded by taxpayer dollars through a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) arrangement.

The document discusses future developmental plans in the downtown area like projects; streetscape, Riverwalk and U.S. 31 intersection improvements; other investments; and the future of the TIF plan and anticipated revenue.

Tyler Leppanen, DDA executive and economic development director, said the draft plan has many changes yet to go until it’s finished.

“Approving this would mean a draft would go to city council, and there will be some discussion at that level,” said Leppanen, at the meeting. “This has been an ongoing document since about a year and a half, or even before then.”

During the meeting, there was much discussion about the future of the document, and its potential to change for the benefit of the city and also the county, as a whole. The TIF Committee has been working with the draft and its development.

“Basically this is us going forward with what we essentially had, even though I think on the TIF Committee there are a lot of discussions on things that could facilitate the city having more revenue, and eventually the county,” said Barry Lind, board member. “(We decided) to have those discussions going forward with city council.”

Mayor and DDA board member Jim Smith said he supports further discussion around the document. He said, in the future, he hopes the DDA can use its funds to better the community and make needed changes.

“As the DDA, I would hope to see things grow to be able to invest in things like the Art Park,” said Smith. “So (the DDA) can do some things to really enhance the value of the downtown area.”

More discussion on the plan will be held in the future at both DDA and City Council meetings.

The DDA also adopted its 2018-19 fiscal year budget on Wednesday, which was approved by City Council last month. The budget totals $262,667.

A hearing was held before the meeting, but no comments were made by the public.

Also at the meeting, there was talk around garbage removal on River Street, as complaints have been filed by downtown businesses owners. The Design Committee recommended trash pick up to be changed to Tuesday and Friday mornings.

While there are many ways to resolve the current trash pick up problem, DDA board members said there could be a long-term goal for dumpsters to be placed in the future.

“There’s a short term fix and a long term fix,” said Lind. “The problem with the Monday pick up right now is most businesses are not open on Sunday. So it’s just sitting out there.”

Smith said city council has the item on a work session agenda; the DDA held a consensus to move forward with recommendations to council.

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Posted by Ashlyn Korienek

Ashlyn is the cops & courts and city reporter for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3109 or akorienek@pioneergroup.com

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