Technical Assistance


Special Assessments Resource Center

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.

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.


CDFA // BNY Mellon Development Finance Webcast Series: Layering the Capital Stack
This webinar discussed how Bonds, Tax Increment Finance, Tax Credits as well as the litany of federal funding through recent legislation can work for your project and ultimately the community that is benefitting.
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.
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 Systems Finance Best Practices Guidebook
Linking development finance and food systems can be a daunting undertaking for any community. Research on the current ecosystem of food systems finance has positioned CDFA to identify key strategies for the path ahead in this work. The Food Systems Finance Best Practices Guidebook defines how traditional development finance tools can be used to launch and expand food and agricultural-related businesses and projects, and create successful food systems finance programs at the local and regional levels.
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.
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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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-Upcoming Events

CDFA-Bricker Graydon Webinar Series: Financing Green Energy with PACE and Special Assessments
September 10, 2024
2:00 PM - 4:00 PM Eastern
Communities are reinforcing tax increment financing (TIF) districts with special assessments and combining TIF with tax credits, tax-exempt bonds, subordinate loan programs, and other federal tools to channel funding toward improvements in distressed or underdeveloped areas. During this session, speakers will discuss the creative ways to use TIF and how to facilitate the successful financing of high-impact revitalization projects.
CDFA-Bricker Graydon Webinar Series: Pairing TIFs with Special Assessments to Spur Retail Revitalization
December 3, 2024
2:00 PM - 4:00 PM Eastern
Join this session to learn how municipalities and the development finance industry are supporting efforts to spur economic development through retail with TIF and creatively utilizing special assessments to back them up.
View more Upcoming Events


CDFA // BNY Mellon Development Finance Webcast Series: Layering the Capital Stack
This webinar discussed how Bonds, Tax Increment Finance, Tax Credits as well as the litany of federal funding through recent legislation can work for your project and ultimately the community that is benefitting.
Value Capture Strategies: Tax Increment FinancingMembers only Login
This FHWA webinar discusses how Tax Increment Financing (TIF) can be utilized as a value capture strategy for transportation projects. The webinar is intended for professionals from States, cities, counties, Tribes, and metropolitan and rural transportation agencies looking for innovative funding and financial strategies to pay for transportation projects.
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.
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CDFA National Sponsors

  • Alliant Insurance Services, Inc.
  • BNY Mellon
  • Bricker Graydon LLP
  • Business Oregon
  • CohnReznick
  • Frost Brown Todd LLP
  • Grow America | Formerly NDC
  • Hawes Hill and Associates LLP
  • Hawkins Delafield & Wood LLP
  • Ice Miller LLP
  • KeyBanc Capital Markets
  • Kutak Rock LLP
  • McGuireWoods
  • MuniCap, Inc.
  • NW Financial Group, LLC
  • PGAV Planners, LLC
  • Raza Development Fund
  • SB Friedman Development Advisors
  • Stifel Nicolaus
  • The Bond Buyer
  • U.S. Bank
  • Wells Fargo Securities
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