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Carriage Trails Supplement Discussion during the Committee of the Whole

Last week during the Committee of the Whole meeting there was a good discussion concerning the supplements the City provides to the Carriage Trails development.  To date there have been 16 amendments to the original development agreement.  These amendments get discussed as each of the phases of the development get sold out and so far cover 600 of the planned 1200 houses for that area.  The expectation is that once the developer sells the 575 lot and only has about 25 lots left (give or take) they will come back to the city and propose the 17th amendment for the next 30 to 40 lots.  The question I have been asking over the past few amendments is whether it makes sense for the city to include a city supplement into those agreements and if so how much of a supplement makes sense.
 
The discussion was pretty long and you can view the video from the City's website.   As always its painful to hear me try to make sentences so you have to pay attention to what I am saying and do your best to ignore how it is being said.  Below I've outlined and commented about the video.
 
At 1 hour 37 minutes and 17 seconds the discussion begins;  From here on out I will use the format 1:37:17 for showing the time of the video.
 
At 1:54:30 we start to discuss the meaning of Supplements versus Special Assessments
There is a difference between the Supplements the City provides and the Special Assessments home owners pay.  Why people get them confused is that both of these are used to pay for the roads and sewers.  In the Carriage trails area Special Assessment can be even more confusing because every house has a Special Assessment that helps to pay for Carriage Trails Blvd.  Some of the houses also have a second Special Assessment that helps to pay for the specific road the house is built on. 
 
Let me try to explain Special Assessments and Supplements by breaking out how a road like Blueflag St might get built.  When the developer goes in and builds a road or section in the development it may cost $1.8 million dollars to put in the roads and sewers and lets say this leads to the creation of 40 lots.  In a "normal" situation the developer would divide $1.8 million by 40 and decide they need to get $45,000 per lot in order to "break even".   When this happens that entire $45,000 lot price is included in the price of the home and when someone buys the home they normally pay for that lot through their mortgage.
 
In Carriage Trails we divert from the "normal" by making it possible to pay for part of that lot price through special assessments and city supplements.  In a special assessment the City lends the builder a portion of the cost of a lot, for instance $5,000 per lot.  The City borrows the $200,000 for that Special Assessment.  The home owner ends up paying the additional "special assessments" as part of their tax bill to cover that loan.  In this arrangement only $40,000 of the lot price needs to be included in the price of the home and part of the mortgage.  The home owner is still paying the other $5,000 plus financing costs they are just doing it through an increase in their annual tax bill. 
 
In a City supplement of $15,000 per lot the cost to the builder for building those lots goes from $45,000 per lot to $30,000 per lot.  The City borrows the $600,000 to make that supplement and the City is responsible to pay that bill.  We have identified the TIF payment made by the homeowner as where we are going to get the money to pay off that debt.  It is important to realize though that that TIF money is not additional money that the home owner pays to the City or County.  That TIF money is the same money that the City and County would normally use for police and fire, plowing roads, paying judges, conducting elections, Bureau of Motor vehicles etc.  We hear in this meeting the average TIF payment for one of the houses in Carriage Trails is $1,500 and that 72% of that money would go to the County (for paying Judges, conducting elections, run the BMV etc) which computes to the City giving up $420 a year per house to pay Police / Fire, plowing roads, paying an economic development position etc.
 
At 2:02:15  we hear some of the figures.  For instance 5 cents of every property tax dollar.  This of course doesn't seem like much if you state it this way.  However, the only reason it would be stated this way is to inappropriately discount how the importance.  It also highlights why I want these items written out and published officially in a report on the City website.  Using the numbers provided at this meeting that 5% of every tax dollar computes to $420 per house.  But this would compute to an average property tax bill of $8400 of property tax per year.  This is about double what I believe the average bill is there.  This is one reason I ask for written reports that we can study and quality check.  In a written report the numbers would make much more sense. 
 
At 2:04:00 we hear about other developments in the City that aren't progressing
 
At  2:06:15 we hear more numbers.  The city receives 4.3 mils of property tax while the county get 11.6.  This matches the 72% of  Carriage Trails TIFF comes from County money figure that was given earlier.
 
At 2:07:30 there is discussion about the Rt 4 intersection that can be dangerous when trucks try to make a left turn onto Rt 4.  It is important to realized that instead of using TIF money collected to help supplement paying for the lot one of the alternate uses could be to improve the safety of that intersections.
 
At 2:09:50 there is a discussion on the I-75 interchange put in at Austin Landing.  That discussion about how the county funded that interchange was not complete so I wouldn't get too hyped up about the county putting money in there but not putting money into Huber Heights.  If I recall correctly there is a TIF district set up to support Austin Landing.  It makes sense to get all the details of how that area is supported before feeling slighted.
 
At 2:14:30 there is talk about how the roads of a development progress.  

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