During Tuesday’s scheduled work session, the Great Falls City Commission addressed the issue of funding for repairs to the facade of the downtown Civic Center. But they were met with some objections from the public.
The current city proposal calls for an amendment to the Urban Renewal Plan that would allow money to be pulled from the downtown Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District, meant for community improvement and developments.
Several members of the downtown community would prefer that money be used for public safety issues like fire suppression and ADA compliance in businesses.
“TIF money should go towards development projects that will be contributing to the TIF district in the future,” said Kelly Pierce of Downtown Great Falls Association during public comment. “In regards to the city using TIF money for the facade project, we would like to see the city go through the proper channels just like every applicant is required to do.”
But Craig Raynond, the Great Falls Planning & Community Development director, contends there’s enough projected funds in the TIF district to cover the facade repairs and other projects.
“There’s concern that I’m hearing from the downtown folks that the city is going to take all of the TIF money for the Civic Center facade project,” Raymond said. “But we feel that with the TIF increment that is coming in annually, we see it as a win-win where we can use the TIF money for the facade project, and have quite a bit of money left over every year for other projects if the commission tries to go that route.”
The city planning board will review the amendment next week, and Raymond said they hope to have a first draft to present to the commission in October.