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Putnam commission votes to create new TIF district

WINFIELD, W.Va. -- Putnam County commissioners on Tuesday approved creation of the tax-increment-financing district that will encompass the Putnam County Business Park in Frazier's Bottom.

According to John Stump, an attorney for Steptoe & Johnson handling the TIF project, the TIF district plans have been approved by the state Development Office, and were scaled down from original projections to exclude landowners who opted out of being part of the district.

"The whole idea was to create the TIF within the Putnam Business Park to pay for the infrastructure out there, plus expand it out to anyone who needs it out there," said Commissioner Steve Andes.

Instead of using existing TIF funds to support the initial park project, the county plans to use TIF funds to borrow money at a low level of interest from a state agency. Tax-increment financing allows government entities to fund economic development projects using the projected increase in property taxes that occurs because of the improvements to the district.

The development authority partnered with the West Virginia Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council on the project, and Stump said the funding of the business park TIF district is "unprecedented" in the state.

"To my knowledge, it's never been done, at least in this fashion," he said.

Chapmanville-based Ludowici Innovative purchased 11 acres of the business park last year. Its parent company, Ludowici Minerals Processing Equipment Company, is a global mineral processing company based in Australia. The company produces mining, quarry, infrastructure, industrial and water equipment.

The commission also voted to submit a plan to the state Development Office for improvements in the Greater Teays Valley TIF district. The plan, which would use existing TIF revenue, would center on improvements to Valley Park, including the wave pool and the access road connecting the park to W.Va. 34.

"The wave pool is more than 30 years old, certain things are wearing out, and there are things that need to be done to keep our eyes on the future," said commission president Joe Haynes. "It will include improvements to the road, as well as a master plan for parks."

Frank Chapman, director of the Putnam County Office of Emergency Services, said concerns brought up by Culloden residents at the last commission meeting about the 911 address changes would require an "all or nothing approach" to fix. The residents, who live on Joy Lane and Cleveland Drive in Culloden, requested the commission explore the possibility of allowing parts of unincorporated areas in the county to opt out of the change.

According to Chapman, if 911 leaves the addresses alone, they are in violation of a county ordinance passed in 2003 to standardize addresses based on state and national standards. Chapman said the addresses on Cleveland Drive are non-sequential and some even and odd-numbered addresses are not on the correct side of the road. The street also has two-digit and four-digit addresses, which Chapman said is another red flag for contractors identifying addresses that need changed.

"Basically, and I don't mean this disrespectfully, when we look at a road, our thing isn't mail delivery, it's getting an ambulance there," Chapman said. 

The commission added a clause to the 2003 ordinance on Tuesday to allow exceptions to the ordinance in cases where the U.S. Postal Service will allow it, but Chapman said Joy Lane and Cleveland Drive will likely not be exempt because both violate other sections of the ordinance.

Reach Lydia Nuzum at lydia.nuzum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5189.

 


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