St. Albans voters will go to the polls September 10 to cast ballots for or against a proposed $13 million parking garage in the heart of the city. If approved, the project would be paid for using "tax increment financing," also known as TIF. St. Albans is one of a half-dozen Vermont communities authorized to use TIF, which allows credit against future state taxes to finance public improvement projects.
In a question and answer page on the City's website, City Manager Dominic Cloud said the project would not increase local taxes.
Tax increment financing uses the “increment” created from new development to service the debts on public improvements that were necessary to attract the new development. The City is one of six communities the State has authorized to use tax increment financing of TIF. Once a TIF is approved, the City may access 75 percent of the funds that would accrue to the Education Fund in order to pay for certain public improvements. In our case, the parking garage is the public improvement that allows private developments to invest in the City.
The new development St. Albans is anticipating includes a new state office building, expansion of Mylan Technologies into the old state building, and a downtown hotel.
If constructed, the parking garage would be built on the city's existing 100-space downtown parking lot. The garage would house a total of 370 parking spaces, 170 of which would be reserved for state employees. Therefore, the city would see a net gain of 100 parking spaces.
City Manager Cloud explained the garage would be well lit and have security cameras:
The current plans call for 12 security cameras. Cameras will be located in stairwells and pedestrian corridors and will have a live feed to the police department. The main stairwell will be constructed with glass walls to allow passive security. The lighting plan calls for twice the amount of lighting customarily required in a parking garage.
Cloud said the $13 million price tag covers the cost of the garage and related expenses:
In addition to the garage, the major costs in the project include acquiring the necessary parcels; reorganizing all of the utilities in the core lot; brownfield remediation; asbestos cleanup; demolition; and adding a traffic signal and other improvements to the intersection at Lake and Federal.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. at City Hall Auditorium in St. Albans on Tuesday, September 10.