Frequently Asked Questions

City Councilwoman Helen Riehle, City Manager Kevin Dorn, and CFO Tom Hubbard shared information on City Center Phase I Infrastructure on CCTV Channel 17. Watch now.



Will I be able to comment publicly on votes for TIF District Financing?

Yes – The City will provide four opportunities for public comment.  For the 2017 vote, the City Council held one public hearing in September, two in October, and one which is statutorily required in November.

Where can I get more information?

Prior to each vote, the City will release a detailed Public Information Notice.

Information on the 2017 vote is available on the City’s City Center/TIF District page including:

Will a YES vote on the bond increase my property taxes? If yes, by how much, if no, why not?

No. The City has anticipated the TIF District for many years and implemented fiscal management practices to build a City Center Reserve over the past four years.  If insufficient increment is available in any given year, the Reserve Fund will be available to cover the shortfall.  Both projects are also eligible to use impact fees collected from developers.

What is Tax Increment Financing?

When property owners pay their property taxes, about 20% goes to municipal functions like plowing the roads, police and fire protection, the community library, recreation and parks  and other services.  The other approximately 80% is sent to Montpelier to be added to the Education Fund, and then those funds are redistributed to communities across the Vermont for education purposes.

Under Tax Increment Financing (TIF), some of the funds that would otherwise be sent to Montpelier can stay in South Burlington, to pay for certain public infrastructure projects.
TIF_District_Graphic(1)

The State Legislature has approved the City Center Tax Increment Financing District. Properties in the District are currently assessed an amount of taxes that go to municipal government and to the State Education Fund and that will continue as is. 

However, when new development is added in the District by private owners – new housing, or an office building or a hotel, or retail shops - the additional tax revenue that is generated from these improvements stays in South Burlington.  This revenue can only be used to pay debt service for things like roads, a library, or other public improvements that the City constructs for the City Center TIF District.

By using Tax Increment Financing, South Burlington will be able to create public facilities in City Center using funds that would have otherwise been sent to the State.

How did the 2017 vote relate to the planned Public Library?

If the City did not have authorization from the Voters to incur TIF District Debt, the City would have lost the TIF District, a main funding mechanism for the planned new Public Library.

Will a YES vote on the bond increase my property taxes? If yes, by how much, if no, why not?

The City has anticipated the TIF District for many years and implemented fiscal management practices to build a City Center Reserve since 2013.  If insufficient increment is available in any given year, the Reserve Fund will be available to cover the shortfall.  Both projects are also eligible to use impact fees collected from developers.

What and where is City Center?

City Center will have all of the characteristics of a downtown; housing, office, retail and civic uses as well as grid streets, bike and pedestrian facilities, public green and open spaces, Community Library and other public buildings and other features consistent with a downtown.  Opportunities for more downtown development will also drive growth to City Center reducing development pressure on more environmentally sensitive areas.

The City Center Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District is an area within City Center designated by the City and State as the new downtown for South Burlington. The TIF District is generally the area on both sides of Market Street between Dorset Street and Hinesburg Road and to the south along San Remo Drive.  This area has also been designated a New Town Center by the State Downtown Board.  

Why do we need City Center?

A recent survey of South Burlington residents found that over 55% believe that the City has no discernible identity. An equal number felt that having such an identity is important for the economic and social well-being of the community. While many recognize that some pillars of identity and community exist such as a strong school system, the dominant feature of a community—its own “downtown” where residents can live, work, gather, recreate, shop and spend time with one another — is missing.  It is this long-held desire to have our own downtown which has led to the City’s efforts to create City Center.

What are City Center Reserves?

For several years the voter approved municipal budget has included an amount set aside for future capital projects in City Center.  The City has taken this step as it does with large capital public infrastructure projects to accumulate funds over a number of years.  This avoids the need to hit the taxpayers all at once for those costs.  So, over the years a dedicated reserve has been built up to pay for public projects in City Center—such as the redevelopment of Market Street and the creation of a park.

Why did the 2017 bond vote cover Market Street and the City Center Park (Dumont Parcel) and not other projects?

Out of all the City Center projects, these two projects are the most likely to have completed engineering and permitting and be ready for construction in 2017. 

What needs to happen before another bond is proposed for the Library? 

The Library needs to be designed and permitted and a capital campaign needs to get underway.

Who has been involved in this process?

The City Council, City Committees, residents, adjacent property owners and other stakeholders such as state agencies.

Why does South Burlington need a City Center?

The lack of a downtown was identified by the community and included in Comprehensive Plans from the 1970s.  Community effort and planning began in the 1980s for a City Center.  The Community has identified the development of a downtown as a focus for civic activities, events, and social activities as critical to bolstering and supporting South Burlington’s identity, cohesion, resiliency, environmental and economic sustainability, and spirit.

Why is this vote happening now?

The City has a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District now.  A TIF District is a once in a generation opportunity to build public infrastructure.  The TIF District will enable the City to realize a long held community vision for a downtown.  To keep the TIF District, voters must approve to use TIF District Financing (debt).  See also Tax Increment Financing 101.

The initial projects already approved will have an immediate benefit to the community and facilitate additional private development (a prerequisite to financing future TIF District projects).

Where is City Center Park Phase I?

Phase I of the City Center Park is located on 7.65 acres of land purchased by the City from the Dumont Construction Company in the 1970s.  This parcel is adjacent to and south of Tributary 3 of the Potash Brook.  The park is north of Barrett Street and west of Iby Street.  When City Center is built, the park will have main entrances from City Center, a secondary entrance at Barrett Street and a neighborhood entrance from Iby Street.  Currently the parcel is accessed from Iby Street.

Who will maintain the City Center Park?

The City’s Department of Public Works will maintain the new Park.  The design process has included Public Works throughout to ensure that materials and design support a long life cycle, access, and durability. This park is planned to be the first City park with a long term invasive plant management plan in addition to a maintenance manual.

Where is Market Street?

Market Street runs from Dorset Street to Hinesburg Road.  It is opposite the main entrance to the University Mall and between the Blue Mall and the Department of Motor Vehicles.

What is the Market Street Project?

It is a full reconstruction of the roadway including upgraded utilities, a full streetscape on both sides of the roadway and improved water quality features such as a landscaped naturalistic stormwater pond with walking trails.  The elevation of the roadway will change by several feet in order to adequately collect stormwater.

Why were the two projects voted on together in 2017?

The City must incur debt by March of 2017.  Whichever project is fully permitted and ready for construction will be undertaken.

Why does the City Center Park Phase I cost so much?

The City Center Park parcel is in an environmentally sensitive area adjacent to a stream and inclusive of many wetlands.  It is also an opportunity for many people to enjoy and learn about these areas, however, many visitors can erode and stress natural areas.  Bridges, trails, water quality treatments and exploration areas are being engineered to protect, support and enhance the natural features and water quality while providing durable, safe, and universal access.

What funding sources are being used to pay for Market Street?

Market Street is funded by two Federal earmarks (a total of $5,486,000), Impact Fees collected from developers City-wide, and if approved by the voters, TIF District Financing (debt serviced by Increment).  If increment is not available in a given year to service debt, the City may use City Center Reserve funds and or Impact Fees.

What funding sources are being used to pay for City Center Park Phase I?

The City Center Park project is being funded using Impact Fees collected from developers (at least 5%) and the proposed TIF District Financing (debt serviced by Increment - not more than 95%).

When did the first expenditure of debt funds take place?

The first expenditure of debt funds took place in 2017.

What happened when the vote passed?

The City incurred debt by March of 2017, thus retaining the status of the TIF District for City Center.  A $5,000,000 bond has been secured from the State of Vermont Municipal Bond Bank for Market Street and the City Center Park (Dumont Parcel).  Once the City Center Park (Dumont Parcel) was ready to go to construction, the City Council awarded a contract for construction after a competitive bid process.  This project is now under construction.

What are related costs?

Related costs are costs incurred in the TIF District application process, implementing and administering the TIF District.  The costs are incurred before and over the life of the district.  The November 8 question only covers an estimated $80,000 worth of related costs.

The City included the following TIF District estimated related costs in the application to the Vermont Economic Progress Council (VEPC) Financing Plan for the City Center TIF District.

Related Cost Name

Related Cost Description

Related Cost Amount

Application Deposit

Application deposit charged by VEPC for third party application analysis

5,000

Application Fee

Total Application Fee charged by VEPC for third party application analysis

16,802

Market Study 2012

Fee charged for the Market Study

1,900

Consumer Demand Study

Study anticipated to support real property development

30,000

Additional Market Study

Study update anticipated to support bond debt

2,000

Application Materials & Outreach

Public Notice, materials

217

Annual Audits

Audits required by Statute

110,000

Outreach

Costs for public notices, publishing, educational material, events, etc. related to the TIF District

50,000

Legal Fees

Support development and analysis of TIF District development agreements

450,000

Financial Analysis

Support debt structuring, market studies, etc.

100,000

State Audits

Audits required by Statute

300,000

Application Fee

Any fees charged for analysis

5,000


I heard that there were problems with the TIF Districts – will that happen to us?

Several years ago there was a disagreement between communities administering TIF Districts and the State Auditor.  Since then the State has established and adopted clear rules and a means to settle disputes.   As the City’s TIF was formed after these were resolved, the City benefits from newer, clearer language and regulations.  The City’s auditor will audit the TIF District once a year, and the State will audit it three times.  The City also has several staff, including in accounting, to make sure that the City is in compliance.

I have more questions, what other information is available online?

Learn more about TIF Districts on the TIF District 101 page...