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City Council hears Main St., taxing district plan

A plan to establish a new taxing district down Main Street and to hire two firms to upgrade the facades of Main Street buildings came closer to fruition as the Olney Economic Development Corporation notified the City Council and the public that it will spend up to $120,000 in taxpayer money on the project.

Young County tax records show that OEDC executive director Tom Parker owns nine Main Street-facing buildings between State Highway 79 and Avenue D; August Bernhardt owns four; Olney Development LLC, the OEDC and Olney Auto Supply each own three; Timothy Sweeney, the City of Olney, Hamilton Church, HDH LLC, Anwar Chagani, and Branum PLC each own two. OEDC President Johnny Moore owns one Main Street-facing building.

The plan is to hire one firm for planning and engineering, and another firm to create a tax incremental reinvestment zone (TIRZ) along Main Street (State Highway 114) and State Highway 79, and to rehabilitate the facades on the commercial buildings within the zone.

The creation of such a district, or zone, will allow for developing tax revenue for infrastructure and financial support for multiple residential and commercial developments and enhancements within the specific zone.

The OEDC notified the Council of its intention to spend up to $120,000 to hire the firms at the Council’s March 11 meeting. “This is actually not an approval [item], it’s a public notice,” Mr. Parker said.

The TIRZ “is still in the planning stage. There are a variety of different

steps we are going to have to go through,” he said. “This is the first step in being able to review those and bring you the best plan we have.”

The OEDC has been interviewing engineering and design-build firms throughout the state, he said.

The idea behind the Facade plan is to spruce up the storefronts down Main Street to attract businesses to town to generate revenue that the new taxing district would use to pay for infrastructure upgrades to streets and utilities, Mr. Parker said.

The OEDC placed a public notice in the Enterprise this week saying that it has approved a project to “create an economic district or districts to allow for the use of generated revenues within the district for housing, retail, commercial, residential, infrastructure, and other enhancements.

The OEDC’s bylaws require it to file a notice 60 days before any funds can be expended. The OEDC is funded by a portion of City sales taxes.