Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone map for city of Paris

With little discussion, Paris City Council created a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone and put restrictions on the use of shipping containers within the city at a brief meeting Monday night.

Councilors also approved required public notices for the sale of $1.5 million in certificates of obligation to finance Love Civic Center refurbishment. Debt will be serviced with a 2% increase in the city’s hotel tax approved by voters in May.

“We waited to see if the increase would cover the debt service, and it does and then some,” interim city manager Gene Anderson said about a roughly $175,000 yearly payment. Revenue from the 2% tax increase is expected to yield roughly $185,000 a year, according to first quarter taxes at the new rate. 

Action on tax increment financing and shipping container restrictions came after sparsely attended public hearings during which no one commented about the reinvestment zone, and a single provider spoke against the ordinance that prevents the permanent use of shipping containers in residential areas.

The ordinance provides for 14-day permits for the temporary use of the containers in residential areas and provides for their permanent use in industrial and commercial areas as long as they are out of public view. It also allows businesses 120 days a year to use the containers for seasonal displays.The ordinance takes effect immediately with a six-month grace period to allow owners time to relocate the containers.

Funds from the newly created reinvestment zone are specified for downtown redevelopment. The money, however, could be used in any of the five contiguous areas that make up the 2,176-acre zone. Revenue, which is to be split 50/50 with the city’s general fund, is to come from city taxes on increased values of property within the zone for the next 30 years with Jan. 1, 2019, values considered the base. 

“Theoretically, this can be spent anywhere, but it is my intention, and I hope the intention of the council, for this money to be spent downtown,” Mayor Steve Clifford said. “I think it would be irresponsible for the TIRZ to take on debt; I would like to see pay as you go on this.”

Counselors are to name a five-member board to make increment financing recommendations to City Council at a Dec. 9 meeting. City clerk Janice Ellis is now taking applications for the positions. 

“This is a pretty responsible board,” increment financing consultant Larry Cline of the Dallas metroplex told councilors, explaining the new board would need to review and perhaps prioritize a preliminary list of public improvements before the first of the year. The board also will be responsible for preparing a Tax Increment Financing report for the council to submit to the Texas Comptroller Office before April 1.

Mary Madewell is a staff writer for The Paris News. She can be reached at 903-785-6976 or at mary.madewell@theparisnews.com.

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