The school district’s likely $200 million referendum would be a tougher sell if the district’s finances didn’t line up just right, and one factor in its favor was the closure of the 15-year-old TIF district created to bring Epic here.
That district, perhaps the most spectacularly successful one the state has ever had, was designed to sustain a $45 million campus, and we all know how that turned out. The district itself – less than half the complex’s current value – will be worth close to $400 million when the numbers are finally calculated early in 2017, and by holding on to it an extra year until a key infrastructure project was finished, the city and school district will pocket $6 million and $11 million, respectively, in one-time funds.
The closure of the district will have a greater long-term impact on the city than the school district because of the state aid formula, which evens out funding for property-rich districts. For the city, it’s an annual tax impact of more than $2 million, with nearly half of that going to tax relief and the rest spent catching up to the city’s resurgent growth.
For both the city and school district, the extra one-time funds are leading to some interesting decisions. The city is using some to pay off some higher-interest debt early and could use the rest for a variety of projects, including a down payment on a new pool, a rebuild of Fireman’s Park and/or a splash pad. The district has discussed putting some of its money into a capital projects fund that could lower the tax impact of the April 2017 referendum to build a new high school.