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Special Assessments Resource Center

Read more about this Tool

A special assessment is an additional tax on a piece of property, generally in the form of real estate taxes. This additional assessment is collected by the local taxing authority and directed to a designated fund to finance projects, improvements or programming for the assessed district.


Special assessment districts are a common development financing tool. Every state provides some form of special assessment district financing. Most states offer more than one option. These tools are known by a variety of names and can be structured in a variety of ways, but there are two predominant methods.


The first method, Business and Neighborhood Districts, is the assembly of business and neighborhood groups into a district to generate funding for projects and programs. Business and Neighborhood Districts are typically run by property owners in the district. These owners impose self-assessed taxes on themselves in order to generate funds for physical improvements or other amenities.


The second approach, Government Districts, is a directly targeted assessment program organized by the local government. Government Districts come in many shapes and sizes. These districts often provide services that are similar in scope to those provided by Business and Neighborhood Districts. However, in these cases, government entities typically direct the work of these districts.


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-Understanding Special Assessments

Special Assessments are one of the most common tools local governments use to incentivize development in a district. Interested in learning more? This section contains resources on understanding the basics of special assessment financing.

Learn more about Special Assessments.

Targeted Tools - Price FinleyMembers only Login
Price Finley from Bricker & Eckler presents on the targeted tools of development finance.
The Rise of Innovation DistrictsMembers only Login
Innovation Districts are creative urban ecosystems in which city leaders, start-ups, established firms, institutions, skilled workers, and entrepreneurs converge to capitalize upon new ideas and technological breakthroughs. Innovation districts are designed to bridge gaps between fields and make unusual and creative collaboration more likely to happen.
An Overview of Special Purpose Taxing DistrictsMembers only Login
The National Association of Home Builders published this report focusing on Special Purpose Taxing Districts, a more efficient and effective way to fund public improvements in advance of growth, while at the same time ensuring that new growth pays for the improvements.
What is a Business Improvement District?Members only Login
This guide from SB Friedman defines tax increment financing and addresses the policies and procedures for creating a Business Improvement District or similar district.
Special Improvement District: Tool for Targeting InvestmentMembers only Login
Gregory Davis at Ohio State University briefly explains special improvement/assessment districts and how they work.

-Resources

State Agency Involvement in Hawaii's Transit-Oriented DevelopmentMembers only Login
This report recommends ways that Hawaii state agencies can leverage transit-oriented development (TOD) to maximize benefits to the State of Hawaii.
Project-Based Financing Approach to Economic DevelopmentMembers only Login
Emily Metzler of Muni-Cap & Chris Sheehan of Stifel to speak on Project-Based Financing in Virginia.
Targeted ToolsMembers only Login
An introductory lesson on tax increment financing and special assessment districts is detailed by Price Finley of Bricker & Eckler.
West Sacramento Infrastructure Financing DistrictMembers only Login
Dennis McGuire of Piper Jaffray examines the use of infrastructure financing districts in the City of West Sacramento, discusses challenges and successes for developers.
Land Secured Finance and Industrial Financing DistrictsMembers only Login
Anna Van Degna of Stifel walks through Infrastructure Financing Districts, understanding them, and looks at the techniques used to encourage development on San Francisco's Mission Bay.
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-Programs Map

Search the map below for Special Assessment District resources by state. This specialized search is part of CDFA's Online Resource Database. Click on a state to see a sample of Special Assessment resources by state. Login with a CDFA Member account at the top of the page to view full results.

-Case Studies

CDFA Food Finance White Paper Series: Food Systems & Targeted Tools
This white paper is part of a series examining the potential creation of a food systems asset class which supports the market growth of local and regional food systems. This paper focuses specifically on targeted financing tools that can be used to geographically target local and regional food system developments.
A Framework for Assessing Feasibility of Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Project SitesMembers only Login
This research from the Mountain-Plains Consortium explains what factors a transit agency uses to choose among alternative TOD locations in a transit network, and the relative importance of each factor. It aims to develop a decision support framework for transit agencies to use when choosing a TOD site by incorporating their unique factors and weights using a multiple criteria decision-making tool.
Opportunities to Use Assessment Districts to Finance Facilities and Services in CaliforniaMembers only Login
This report from the California Debt and Investment Advisory Commission (CDIAC) seeks to inform local agencies as well as others in the public finance community about the opportunities for using assessments within the constraints imposed by recent court decisions. The report necessarily takes into account the court decisions that have changed the way public entities must determine and impose assessments.
Assembling Capital for Mixed-Use DevelopmentMembers only Login
Thomas Porter, Director of Commercial Lending at the Vermont Economic Development Authority, discusses unique development financing solutions for mixed-use development.
Assembling Capital for Mixed-Use DevelopmentMembers only Login
Abby Goldenfarb discusses unique development financing solutions for mixed-use development.
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-Headlines

-Publications

Tax Increment Finance Best Practices Reference Guide 2nd Edition
The Tax Increment Finance Reference Guide addresses what TIF is, why it should be used and how best to apply the TIF tool. The reference guide also highlights both TIF and special assessment projects from across the country and discusses how they can be applied to address many common economic development issues.
Advance Tax Increment Finance Best Practices Reference Guide 2nd Edition
The Advance Tax Increment Finance Reference Guide examines model policies, guidelines and procedures, and outlines the TIF process from A to Z. Throughout the book, clear guidance is offered for assessing project feasibility and monitoring the performance of active TIF districts. In addition, the guide outlines the critical elements of state TIF statutes that should be known in order to ensure project success and long term economic prosperity.
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-Training Courses

The Intro Tax Increment Finance Course offers an in-depth look at the guiding principles and appropriate application of TIF. This course brings TIF deal-making and best practices into focus through a two-day program targeting the entire TIF community including economic developers, public agency representatives, bond issuers, legal professionals, developers, financial advisors, and other stakeholders. 

The Advanced Tax Increment Finance Course builds upon CDFA's Intro TIF Course by focusing more concretely on structuring the deal and developing short- and long-term policies. You will also learn about performance monitoring, feasibility analysis and using TIF in conjunction with other development finance tools.

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-Upcoming Events

Fundamentals of Economic Development Finance WebCourse
January 29-30, 2020
Daily: 12:00 - 5:00 PM Eastern
The Fundamentals WebCourse is the foundation for all of CDFA’s educational offerings. This course helps attendees understand the variety of development finance tools available, from bonds, tax credits and TIF, to federal financing programs, RLFs, and access to capital lending resources.
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CDFA Federal Policy Conference
April 14-15, 2020
Washington, DC
The federal government plays a critical role in driving private and public investment in innovation, job creation, infrastructure, and community development. With the 2020 presidential election quickly approaching, development finance will be a key policy issue across the nation. The 116th Congress will also play a major role in shaping our country’s economic development policy going forward. It's up to the development finance community to focus the national discussion on smart federal policy, and CDFA is the voice of the economic development finance community on Capitol Hill. For these reasons, CDFA will host its CDFA Federal Policy Conference on April 14-15 in Washington DC.
Register
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-Webcasts

CDFA // BNY Mellon Webcast Series: Special Assessment Techniques for Transformative Community ImprovementsMembers only Login
This month’s CDFA // BNY Mellon Development Finance Webcast Series featuring Dr. Laura Wheeler from Georgia State University, Bryant Parker from White Goss, Austin Parker from Fisher, Patterson, Sayler & Smith, and Emily Metzler from MuniCap, Inc. includes a discussion on new and innovative uses for special assessments and how this tool is poised for greater use nationwide.
Georgia Webinar: Utilizing Community Improvement Districts in the Peach StateMembers only Login
Expert panelists explored the prevalence of Community Improvement Districts projects in Georgia and how they are being used to finance revitalization in communities of all sizes during this webinar.
CDFA // BNY Mellon Webcast Series: What's Special About Special Assessment Financing?Members only Login
During this CDFA // BNY Mellon Development Finance Webcast, the diverse nature of special assessment financing is showcased with examples from around the nation.
CDFA-Stifel Webcast: Advancing Small-Town America With Innovative FinancingMembers only Login
In the first installment of the CDFA-Stifel Small, Medium and Rural Community Development Finance Webcast Series, speakers focus on funding tools to make economic development more effective in rural areas as well as successful case studies.
CDFA-Stifel Nicolaus Innovative Deals: RetailMembers only Login
During this installment of the CDFA-Stifel Nicolaus Innovative Deals Webcast Series, we featured the latest in downtown retail development. Speakers highlighted two recent projects that have served as catalysts for downtown renewal and discussed how the financing was assembled.
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CDFA National Sponsors

  • Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority
  • Baker Tilly Virchow Krause
  • BNY Mellon
  • Bricker & Eckler LLP
  • Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP
  • Business Oregon
  • CohnReznick
  • FBT Project Finance Advisors LLC
  • Fifth Third Bank
  • Frost Brown Todd, LLC
  • Hawkins Delafield & Wood LLP
  • Ice Miller LLP
  • KeyBanc Capital Markets
  • Kutak Rock LLP
  • McCarter & English, LLP
  • McGuireWoods
  • MuniCap, Inc.
  • NW Financial Group, LLC
  • Petros PACE Finance
  • SB Friedman Development Advisors
  • Stern Brothers
  • Stifel Nicolaus
  • U.S. Bank
  • Wells Fargo Securities
  • Wilmington Trust
  • Z. The Bond Buyer
Become a Sponsor