Special Assessment Finance Resource Center
Special assessment district financing mechanisms are a common development finance 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. 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 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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Tax Increment Financing, Special Assessment Districts, Management Districts and Public Improvement Districts have become powerful financing mechanisms to help communities concentrate development opportunities into targeted locations. Laura Radcliff of Stifel and Suzanne Long of Haneberg Hurlbert discuss their experience using these tools in communities across Virginia to catalyze public improvements that spur private investment.
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TIF is perennially one of the nation’s most effective and popular development finance tools, but also one of its most misunderstood and controversial. TIF is a very flexible, with multiple variations as to the specific revenue sources it can generate and the different ways these revenues are used to support project financings. Chris Tscheschlok with Economic Devleopment Washington County discusses TIF case studies from around the state, as well as explore creative ways to maximize this tool going forward.
Communities throughout the country use special assessment finance every day and CDFA collects headlines on projects and news daily.
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