The Exponent Telegram
Friday, December 8, 2006
By Jim Fisher, METRO EDITOR
CLARKSBURG – Once again, Genesis Partners, the city of Bridgeport and the Harrison County Commission are at the forefront of a first-of-its-kind development initiative.
Commissioners on Thursday gave their blessing for Genesis to start the process of creating a Community Enhancement District in the vast majority of the remaining, undeveloped portion of Charles Pointe.
Essentially, the district is a way for Genesis to make the tax increment financing district bonds more attractive to potential buyers by guaranteeing the debt service.
Under TIF, property taxes are frozen at a certain level; as property values rise, the increment is set aside to pay for infrastructure.
Under the Community Enhancement District, if that increment does not meet the debt service to repay the bonds, then Genesis would make up the difference through a special assessment.
But Thursday’s approval did not come without a slight wrinkle.
When Bridgeport City Council approved the formation of the district recently, it came with a couple of stipulations, including that the city chief financial officer be a member of the district’s oversight board.
And that didn’t sit very well with commissioners.
“What rakes me the wrong way on this is the way it was presented,” said Commissioner Roger Diaz. ‘I wouldn’t have a problem with having their chief executive financial officer as a member of the board, it’s just the way it was presented, as a stipulation and not a request.”
By statue, the oversight board consists of the county sheriff and at least three people who live in the proposed Community Enhancement District.
Steptoe & Johnson attorney Vince Collins, the commission’s attorney in the process, said the city’s stipulations were “a product of the legal system” because the way a resolution must be worded cannot include requests. Bridgeport simply wanted a say in the process, since the proposed district is within city limits.
In fact, city leaders initially wanted to form the district themselves, but Collins believed that to be inappropriate since the special assessment would guarantee bonds sold through the commission.
Genesis is expected to get the necessary paperwork to form the district to commissioners in the near future.