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Posted on: October 27, 2023

City of Ridgefield and Clark-Cowlitz Fire District Reach Agreement on Mitigation Plan

The City of Ridgefield has been considering the formation of a Tax Increment Allocation Area (TIA) as a financing tool to fund critical infrastructure improvements that will support the development of Ridgefield as a regional employment center. In this type of financing, other taxing districts in the designated area temporarily forego some taxes raised from the increase in assessed value in the TIA and the dollars are directed toward public infrastructure improvement in the boundary. As part of the public outreach portion of consideration, the city has been in direct contact with all the impacted taxing districts. From early in the process, Clark Cowlitz Fire Rescue (CCFR), one of these districts, has expressed their concerns about the impact of the proposed TIA on their operating budget. The City is proud to report that together we have developed a voluntary mitigation plan that both parties can sign on to.

“This process has been a great example of community partners working together to come up with a solution that best serves the current and future needs of the residents of Ridgefield,” said Mayor Jennifer Lindsay.

A mitigation plan is not required by the state for this proposed TIA, however, the City values our partnership with CCFR and recognizes the importance of adequate funding for fire and rescue services. City councilors and staff have earnestly engaged in multiple conversations with CCFR commissioners and staff about the impact of the proposed TIA on fire service to create a voluntary mitigation plan. The voluntary mitigation plan includes:

  1. The City will purchase property for a new CCFR fire station by 2025 that will serve the TIA and broader City, prior to any impacts from the TIA being felt by any taxing districts.
  2. The City and CCFR will agree to formal meetings between our community’s elected leaders, starting when impacts might be expected and regularly after that, with information that will help our future elected officials better understand real impacts and find solutions to mitigate them.
  3. The City is committed to end the TIA early if the bonds are paid for the necessary infrastructure projects identified in the project list. In this case, the affected taxing districts will begin receiving the full amount of property tax revenue from the increased assessed value prior to the 25 year duration.

These measures will be included in both the ordinance considered by the City Council, and an Interlocal Agreement which will assure that there is accountability and certainty in the agreed-upon terms for both the City and CCFR.

“CCFR supports the current Ridgefield plan and looks forward to continuing working with the City as a partner in all of the ways that both of our jurisdictions serve the citizens of Ridgefield” Chief Nohr commented after Public Briefing #2 on October 26.

The infrastructure projects proposed for this TIA are necessary for future development of living-wage employment and desired services in Ridgefield. The costs exceed the capacity of current city revenue and will require borrowing. Without a TIA, repayment for these projects would stress funds in other critical services supported by the City’s General Fund, such as police, parks, and city services. After the TIA expires, CCFR will reap the benefits of an increased tax base due to the private development that will occur as a result of infrastructure improvements. Future taxable development is forecast to add over $700 million of assessed value to the tax rolls and much of this new construction would not be possible without the infrastructure investments funded by the TIA. This voluntary mitigation plan ensures protection for CCFR’s operating budget during the TIA’s existence and provides needed land for a new fire station.

The first reading of the TIA ordinance was completed on Thursday, October 26. The second reading is scheduled for Thursday, November 2. 

To learn more about the Ridgefield TIA and the projects included, visit https://ridgefieldroundtable.org/tax-increment-area

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