OGDEN — With the expiration of Ogden’s most successful tax increment districts, the city’s Redevelopment Agency revenue is expected to decline significantly over the next fiscal year.
Created by 1969 ballot measure, Ogden’s RDA was established to address deteriorating conditions in Ogden’s downtown and inner city neighborhoods. The RDA is funded primarily through tax increment received from various redevelopment districts. The districts work by freezing the tax valuation for all taxable properties inside an area of land that’s been targeted for reinvestment.
For a specified time period or up to a certain dollar amount, future increases in property tax revenue are sent back to the agency, a mechanism called tax increment financing, or TIF. The TIF money is often offered to developers as an incentive to build and can be used for things like street and utility improvements, hazardous waste removal, property acquisition and the demolition of blighted buildings. In Ogden, RDAs usually collect those tax increases from the city, Weber County and the Ogden School District.
Since the agency’s inception, millions of dollars have been pumped into tax-incentivized redevelopment projects across the city.
Ogden Comptroller Lisa Stout said RDA revenue for Fiscal Year 2021 will fall by nearly $6.1 million from 2020, when the agency’s budget was $16.1 million. According to Ogden City Council documents, the brunt of the revenue loss stems from the expiration of the Defense Depot Ogden district.
In the late 1990s, the city turned the Business Depot Ogden into a TIF district after the former military installation closed amid the Department of Defense Base Realignment and Closure program. After the closure, the federal government deeded Ogden all of the land and facilities associated with the site and the city froze the facility’s tax valuation to put revenue generated from property tax increases back into the development.
Today, the reimagined former military installation currently houses more than 125 individual businesses and 6,000 employees.
While the district’s expiration means a large chunk of revenue gone from the RDA, the course of action is a boon for the city as a whole because it means Ogden will receive property taxes from the nearly 1,118 acre site for the first time since before World War II. The entire site was tax exempt while under the U.S. military’s ownership. The city expects to collect more than $2 million in property tax revenues. The county and school district will also see an influx of money.
Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell said the city’s entire budget is “extremely conservative” due to economic uncertainty tied to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Brandon Cooper, the city’s deputy director of community and economic development, said it’s still unclear exactly how the pandemic will impact the RDA. And though the agency’s revenues will decline, RDA activity will still be robust, Cooper said.
The city is currently demolishing the old Rite Aid building near the corner of Monroe Boulevard and 24th Street and should have the area cleared for a rebuild soon. The Swift building is coming down in West Ogden, which will clear the way for a 125,000-square-foot aerospace manufacturing facility at the city’s Trackline Economic Development project. Work also continues on a six-block area between Wall Avenue and Washington Boulevard and 25th and 27th streets, known as the Continental Community Reinvestment Area. A host of redevelopment projects are planned for the site, including a hotel, development of new housing units, public infrastructure improvements and the renovation of existing buildings.