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Pros and cons of Missoula Tax Increment Financing discussed

Downtown Missoula
Posted at 8:50 AM, Jun 09, 2020

MISSOULA — Missoula City Club is continuing its virtual meeting style on Monday and took up a topic that seems to stir the pot -- Tax Increment Financing.

Tax Increment Financing (TIF) is a highly talked about issue in Missoula -- and can be a little difficult to understand.

“States and local governments such as counties and cities use Tax Increment Financing as a tax policy tool to help subsidize costs in redevelopment projects,” explained University of Montana law professor Pippa Browde.

Missoula officials who support the current status of TIFs say it might be their only tool to help complete projects citywide that might otherwise go uncompleted

“But there aren't many opportunities for subsidy or incentive in Montana for local jurisdictions, and TIF really ends up being one of the most powerful -- and frankly only -- tools to provide incentives for business development and real estate investment,” Missoula Mayor John Engen said.

But TIF opponents say that these projects might be funded otherwise -- and that developers use TIFs as a way to save money.

“I don't think that Stockman Bank had any intentions of moving out of downtown Missoula. I don't believe TIF was necessary to make those projects happen,” real estate developer Adam Hertz said. “And so, what you have is a big subsidy that takes money out of the pockets of the local school district the county the city general fund in order to subsidize development that otherwise would have excited anyway."

Hertz also said he believes TIFs have value - they just need to be regulated more.

Watch the full meeting below.

Missoula City Club: TIF discussion