By David Tuma, Publisher
One of the most successful programs in the long history of the City of Belton has been the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone. The program was started in fall of 2004 collecting taxes in 2005. It wasn’t a tax increase. What the program does is define retail trade areas and designate this as a TIRZ area. The current taxes remain the same.
If the value of the buildings increase in the TIRZ area so does the taxes collected. The increase in value taxes goes towards TIRZ. A new business opens (Belton has had many) and those taxes collected by the city in that area go toward TIRZ.
This brief explanation gives an idea of how TIRZ works. The intersection of Sparta Road and Loop 121, and the vast improvements to Central Ave. were projects funded by TIRZ. The downtown area is night and day different over the past 10 years. Over $430,000 in façade grants have been funded by TIRZ. This program is a 50-50 matching grant program for the front of area businesses.
Around the year 2000, downtown Belton was almost dead. Many buildings were empty and some falling apart.
TIRZ has been a drastic part of Belton’s miracle turnaround.
“It has been a powerful tool for economic development in Belton. It focus’s reinvestment in the community,” said Brandon Bozon, CPA, Finance Director for the City of Belton.
TIRZ is run by a board of directors. The ultimate of approval of projects remains in the City Councils hands. Three of the board members are selected by the council and two by the Bell County Commissioners.
The funding of any project remains in the city’s budget. The idea was presented by current councilman David Leigh.
It started off small with only $81,366 for use in 2006. There was little to no retail in Belton back then.
The current TIRZ budget for 2019 was $877,625. These funds will be used in reinvesting in the community. Some of these projects are for improving roads and water lines of an aging infrastructure.
Over the past 10 years the funding has increased from $330,000 to almost $870,000 a year.