By Town of East Hampton
EAST HAMPTON: In June the town council took an important first step in preserving and protecting its historic Village Center with the implementation of a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District. The TIF District plan will allow the town to set aside increased revenue generated through property taxes within the district in order to perform projects that directly benefit the Village Center area with the goal of promoting growth, redevelopment and creating an inviting atmosphere in the historic downtown.
East Hampton, known colloquially as Belltown, was once home to several bell and toy manufacturers, all of which were nestled in the Village Center, originally drawing on water power from nearby Lake Pocotopaug. Beginning in the 1970s, changes in the manufacturing industry resulted in the loss of all but one bell manufacturer to date. Several large historic mill buildings sit, blighted, vacant or underutilized throughout the area. TIF is a method used to catalyze economic development through anticipated future increases in property tax revenues to generate incremental revenues to help pay for costs within the district.
The TIF District plan includes a broad range of projects that would be eligible for use with TIF funds, including streetscape and façade improvements, infrastructure upgrades, wayfinding signage, and other improvements. The TIF plan includes a Credit Enhancement Agreement, whereby developers can leverage TIF funds to help redevelop a property with guarantees that a portion of their revenues will go back into the TIF fund.
The TIF District is not an additional tax and does not require property owners within the district to pay any additional fees on top of their standard property taxes, set at the same mil rate as all other properties within East Hampton. However, as property values increase over time, the increased tax is set aside for use only in the district.