Total property taxes collected on the property will increase from $10,000 a year to as much as $1.4 million a year if Hamilton Crossings is built. But the county, township and school district will give up a portion of that increased tax revenue for up to 20 years if they agree Hamilton Crossings is worthy of tax increment financing-- TIF.
If they do not agree, said Fogel, they will receive no additional tax revenue because the property probably never will be developed.
TIF is used for projects that have fairly widespread community support but significant financing gaps, according to John Kingsley of the Lehigh County Industrial Development Authority, which would administer the proposed Hamilton Crossings TIF district.
In addition to mine wash remediation, the Hamilton Crossings development team plans to use TIF funds for infrastructure improvements that will benefit the public, such as upgrading storm water systems to reduce flooding in the area and upgrading roads so Hamilton Crossings does not create traffic problems.
Fogel said those traffic improvements will include a “collector/distributor road-- a major through lane that we’ll be building along the bypass.” He said other significant improvements will be made to Krocks Road and Hamilton Boulevard.
Stormwater controls will include adding a basin on the 10 acres north of Route 222, where a water-filled quarry is the only visible remains of the iron mining operations.
Fogel said any developer will find it impossible to build on the property without remediating the mine wash and making the other major infrastructure improvements.
To qualify for financing under the state’s TIF program, projects must pass a “but for” test, explained Fogel: “But for this financing the project cannot move forward.”
He said “extraordinary” infrastructure and mine wash remediation costs will total $18 million. Other funding sources are being pursued to pay some of those costs. He declined to say how much of that $18 million the development team hopes to get through TIF or how much it would like to get from each of the three taxing bodies.
The township, school board and county have appointed members to an exploratory committee that eventually will make a recommendation to each taxing body.
Each of those three taxing bodies then will decide if it wants to participate in TIF and, if so, what percent of the property tax revenue it would get from the shopping center should be diverted for up to 20 years to help pay for the project.
The taxing bodies will not have to contribute the same percentages. And it’s not an all-or-nothing deal. Two could decide to participate, for example, and one could decide not to participate.
TIF will be “an economic generator” for the township, school district and county, argued Fogel because, even if they do allocate a portion of Hamilton Crossings’ property tax revenue to TIF, they still will be getting much more property tax revenue from the property than they do now.
After TIF loans used for those project improvements are repaid, the three taxing bodies will collect the full amount of increased property taxes from Hamilton Crossings.