Tax Increment Finance (TIF) Heats Up

by Davis Brown Law Firm

Tax Increment Finance continues to be a hot topic at the capitol. The House has its bill, HF2460, on the calendar for debate in the House. Many groups interested in economic development are following this legislation and are opposed to some of the significant changes proposed in the bill. The current House version contains many provisions altering TIF including:

  • New reporting and auditing requirements.
  • Anti-piracy provisions to prevent competition with neighboring communities using TIF incentives.
  • A city would not be able to create or modify an urban renewal area encompassing more than 25 percent of the aggregate taxable value of all taxable property in the city.
  • A city must hold three public hearings before voting on a new TIF plan, must issue notice to all taxing entities affected, and must publish notice of all three hearings, including a description of the resolution(s) in the notice published.
  • Affected taxing entities must vote to support or oppose the project.
  • Once an area is established a blighted, slum, or economic development urban renewal area, the type of urban renewal area can never be changed.
  • Detailed findings must be made (a “but for analysis”) before establishing a new economic development TIF.
  • Any economic development TIFs without an end date (pre-1995) must end by 2032, or apply for a waiver from the Department of Management.
  • Sunsets all slum and blight TIFs.
  • All new TIF projects are limited to 15 years, and can add another 5 years only with the approval of all other affected taxing entities.
  • TIF cannot be used for public buildings (whether built or leased), movable property or equipment or employee costs.
  • TIF cannot be used for residential projects in a city over 10,000 in population, and can only be used for cities under 10,000 if new requirements are met.
  • Repeals local option sales tax TIF.
  • Prohibits the use of TIF on wind farms.

The Senate is also working on their version of a TIF bill, but language has not been completed. It will be different than the House version. There continue to be discussions among legislators about how far to go in changing TIF, and what a compromise bill might be.

The automated traffic enforcement camera ban (HF2450) which eeked past the second funnel by being assigned to the funnel-proof appropriations committee came to the floor this week in the House. The bill was debated, and passed on the floor 58-42, and went to the Senate where it was assigned to the Transportation Committee. The ban bill will likely not move any further this session.

The House passed SF2217, which now goes to the Governor. The bill authorizes a city, county or joint powers entity formed under Iowa Code Chapter 28E to use sales tax increment revenue to pay for the costs of flood projects, including principal and interest on bonds issued to fund a flood project. A flood project includes levees, embankments, impounding reservoirs, or conduits that are necessary for the protection of property from the effects of floodwaters. A project may also include deepening, widening, alteration, change, diversion, or other improvement of watercourses if required to protect property from the effects of floodwaters.

The bill also establishes a nine member board to establish a flood mitigation program to be administered by the homeland security and emergency management division of the department of public defense. The flood mitigation program is designed to fund projects which the board approves and funds from annual appropriations into the flood mitigation fund in the State treasurer or from sales tax increment revenue. A city, county or 28E entity receiving approval from the board for it flood project cannot finance the project with both money from the flood mitigation fund and from sales tax increment revenue.

The per diem for legislators ends on April 17th. On Thursday House and Senate leadership mentioned the possibility of adjournment within the next two weeks, although Senate leadership appeared more optimistic than the leaders in the House. Several major policy issues were worked on last week. The Senate finalized its version of education reform (SF2284) and is tentatively scheduled to debate it Monday. The House worked on the Health & Human Services budget (HF2435) but did not reach an agreement. All of the budget bills remain to be resolved - mostly in conference committee. Property tax reform took a step forward when Governor Branstad announced the he will sign an earned income tax credit bill if the legislature will approve property tax reform. Finally, both political parties appear to closer to an agreement on mental health reform.

Stay tuned as session starts heading toward a close!


Thomas E. Stanberry
Jessica S. Harder
Davis Brown Government Relations Report
(515) 288-2500

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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