What’s a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District?

What’s a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District?

Emerson-Garfield is part of Spokane’s West Quadrant Tax Increment Financing – or TIF – District. What exactly is a TIF district? And what does it have to do with our neighborhood?

Simply put, a TIF district is a pledge from Spokane city government that it will pay for projects that will upgrade neighborhoods using future property taxes. The idea is that such improvements will increase overall property values, especially properties located within the district, and thus increase Spokane’s overall property tax revenue.

Please note that simply being located within a TIF district does not automatically increase someone’s property taxes. Each property located within a TIF district continues to be assessed individually.

Spokane created the West Quadrant TIF District in 2007. It is one of three TIF districts created by city officials. The West Quadrant TIF District includes all of the Kendall Yards development being built on the bluff overlooking the Spokane River, part of the Riverside Neighborhood next to the river, much of the West Central Neighborhood, and Monroe St. within the West Central and Emerson-Garfield Neighborhoods.

In 2007, the West Quadrant TIF district had an assessed value of $198 million, which became the district’s base valuation.

The amount of property tax that has been collected within the district each year above the 2007 property tax collected is called a tax increment. Three-quarters of each year’s West Quadrant tax increment that isn’t specifically for schools and state government will be used as seed money for approved projects within the District.

One of those approved projects is the planned revitalization of the North Monroe business district from the bridge north to Cora St., which is the north boundary of the Emerson-Garfield Neighborhood.

Other approved TIF projects are the installation of streets, sewer lines and other infrastructure within the Kendall Yards development, the extension of the Centennial Trail west from Monroe St., continuing streetscape improvements along West Broadway Ave., and improvements to the Spokane County courthouse campus.

No one expects that there will be enough tax increment collected to be able to fully pay for any of these projects. Think of the increment rather as being seed money that will attract additional money from private and public funding sources for continuing improvements within TIF neighborhoods, including Emerson-Garfield.

The West Quadrant TIF district tax increment will be collected for 25 years, after which the district will be dissolved. The hope and expectation is that by the time the district goes away somewhere in the neighborhood of $4.5 million will have been collected and that will have gone a long way toward revitalizing our part of Spokane.

(This article was written by Emerson-Garfield resident John Vlahovich, who is chair of the West Quadrant TIF District Neighborhood Project Advisory Committee.)

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