Ann Arbor city councilmembers have given their support to the local development finance authority’s application to the Michigan Economic Development Corp. to extend the life of the LDFA’s tax capture arrangement for up to 15 years. Without an extension, the LDFA would end in 2018.
Action came at the council’s June 2, 2014 meeting after about 20 minutes of deliberation that concluded just before 11 p.m. Carrie Leahy, chair of the LDFA board, and Ann Arbor SPARK CEO Paul Krutko were on hand to answer councilmember questions. The voice vote by the council passed over dissent from Sumi Kailasapathy (Ward 1).
Ann Arbor’s local development finance authority is funded through a tax increment finance (TIF) district, as a “certified technology park” described under Act 281 of 1986. The Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) solicited proposals for that designation back in 2000. The Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti “technology park” is one of 11 across the state of Michigan, which are branded by the MEDC as “SmartZones.”
The geography of the LDFA’s TIF district – in which taxes are captured from another taxing jurisdiction – is the union of the TIF districts for the Ann Arbor and the Ypsilanti downtown development authorities (DDAs). It’s worth noting that the Ypsilanti portion of the LDFA’s TIF district does not generate any actual tax capture.
The LDFA captures Ann Arbor Public Schools (AAPS) operating millage, but those captured taxes don’t diminish the school’s budget. That’s because in Michigan, local schools levy a millage, but the proceeds are not used directly by local districts. Rather, proceeds are first forwarded to the state of Michigan’s School Aid Fund, for redistribution among school districts statewide. That redistribution is based on a per-pupil formula as determined on a specified “count day.” And the state reimburses the School Aid Fund for the taxes captured by SmartZones throughout the state.
In FY 2013, the total amount captured by the LDFA was $1,546,577, and the current fiscal year forecast is for $2,017,835. About the same amount is forecast for FY 2015.
The extension of the LDFA is made possible by Public Act 290 of 2012, which amended the Local Development Financing Act to allow a SmartZone to capture school taxes for an additional five years or an additional 15 years. The staff memo accompanying the council resolution describes the five-year extension as possible “upon approval of the MEDC President and the State Treasurer, if the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti SmartZone LDFA agrees to additional reporting requirements and the LDFA requests, and the city councils of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti approve, the amendment of the LDFA tax increment financing (TIF) plan to include regional collaboration.” The current MEDC president is Michael Finney, former CEO of Ann Arbor SPARK.
A 15-year extension is possible, according to the memo, “if, in addition to the above requirements, Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, as the municipalities that created the SmartZone, enter into an agreement with another LDFA [a "Satellite SmartZone"] that did not contain a certified technology park to designate a distinct geographic area, as allowed under Section 12b of the Act…”
The council’s resolution states that if the MEDC approves the extension, the city of Ann Arbor will work with the LDFA and the city of Ypsilanti to identify another LDFA – called the “Satellite SmartZone LDFA.” The arrangement will allow the Satellite SmartZone LDFA to capture local taxes in its own distinct geographic area for the maximum 15 years allowed by statute.
Responding to an emailed query from The Chronicle, Sally Petersen (Ward 2) – who sponsored the resolution on the agenda and serves as the council appointee to the LDFA board – wrote that possibilities for an LDFA satellite for Ann Arbor’s SmartZone include Adrian (Adrian College) or Brighton and Livingston County (with Cleary University).
Details on the council’s deliberations are provided in The Chronicle’s live updates filed during the meeting.
This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron.