Earlier this week, the Times received a letter from a resident who complained about the condition of some unkempt properties in town.
Old complaint. Old problem. The question is: What to do about it?
We asked three friends of this blog what they would do -- if made king/queen of Dorchester for a day -- to address homes and commercial buildings in major disrepair? We received three different answers. Here they are:
- Crack down more on negligent and/or messy property owners, using heavier fines and legal means.
- Create a "cost-share incentive program" to financially assist clean-up and restoration efforts made by low-income property owners. (When we asked how this fund would be financed, the resident told us through donations, fundraisers, property tax revenues and perhaps a new sales tax.)
- Declare certain blocks in Dorchester as blighted and substandard, then use tax increment financing to encourage rebuilding and/or renovation. (The person who gave us this answer said this could bring a new retirement facility to town, or maybe a new apartment building.)
Readers of this blog might not be too familiar with tax increment financing, but it's a tool being used in many Nebraska communities to encourage the redevelopment of deteriorating, dilapidated properties. Nebraska law permits its use.
We aren't experts on tax increment financing, or TIF for short, but it seems to be a pretty straight-forward concept. It takes property tax revenue that would normally be paid by developers (once a property is improved and valued at a much higher price) and diverts it back into their projects. That money can even be used for for public infrastructure near the project.
Under Nebraska law, TIF projects may be commercial, residential, industrial, or mixed use. After a project is approved by the town board, the locality authorizes the issuance of warrants or TIF bonds to undertake public improvements in the designated area.
We are interested in what our readers would do to encourage clean-up and repair of dilapidated properties in town?