The Tarrant Regional Water District’s Board of Directors Tuesday took a crucial step toward raising the money needed to complete the local portion of the $1.16 billion Central City/Panther Island flood control project.
After the Trinity River Vision TIF board approved a 10-year extension on August 3, TRWD’s Directors voted to extend their participation in the tax increment financing district for 10 years.
By taking this action, TRWD will be able to sell $250 million in bonds to pay for utility relocations, land purchases and environmental cleanup for Central City/Panther Island.
The measure still has to be approved by the City of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, among others, but TRWD officials were excited about the prospect of taking the initial step to finally complete the local portion of the project.
The decision to extend the TIF follows the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers receiving a $403 million appropriation for the project earlier this year. The appropriated money will be used to design and construct the bypass channel as well as other related project improvements.
TRWD General Manager Dan Buhman said the local partners waited to extend the TIF for 10 years until the USACE got its funding. He stressed that the $250 million in TRWD bonds will be paid off without raising taxes.
“I’m excited because now we’re going to be able to execute the final pieces of the local share (of the project),” Buhman said.
The City is expected to approve their continued participation in the TIF in August. The County, Tarrant County Hospital and College districts are expected to vote in September.
The TIF was created in 2003 and expanded in 2009. It takes in about 4,000 acres on Fort Worth’s near north and west sides. The TIF was set to expire in 2044, but delays in federal funding and the expected issuance of bonds required that it be extended.
Under a TIF, a portion of the property taxes is diverted back into a specific area to help finance improvements. In the Trinity River Vision TIF, 80 percent of the taxes collected on land within the zone goes into the fund.
Since 2003, there’s been more than $579 million in new construction in the Central City/Panther Island TIF and, on average, $32.2 million in real property value added to the property tax rolls each year.
Collectively, this new construction and tax base appreciation has already pumped about $55.4 million into the TIF, and raised the baseline value of the land within the TIF’s boundaries from $112 million to $774 million.
In 2018, voters approved the sale of $250 million in general obligation bonds by TRWD to pay for the Central City project.
If the TIF extension is approved by all the project partners, TRWD expects to sell bonds in 2023 to pay for relocating the water, stormwater and sewer lines in the path of the flood control project’s bypass channel.
But by the time the bulk of the bonds are sold, possibly within the next five years, the majority of the local projects will be funded, Buhman said.