Council Approves Ballot Item for Garden Street
The South Burlington City Council has approved placing a question related to the connection of Garden Street to Williston Road on the north and Dorset Street on the west on the ballot for the City’s Annual Meeting on March 2nd.
Voters will be asked to decide whether or not to enter into just over $4 million in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) debt to pay for the completion of Garden Street. The map nearby depicts four different segments of Garden Street construction. Section B is the responsibility of the owner/developers of the property. The northerly portion of the blue segment is already completed and most of the utilities and base construction is completed on the south and westerly portion over to the existing segment between Health Living and Trader Joe’s. Section A picks up at that point which is the responsibility of the City. While the road already exists some infrastructure, improvements need to be made to complete the connection to Dorset Street.
At the north end, Section C on the map, we will need to fully construct a new road making the connection to Midas Drive. There will also need to be some additional improvements to Midas Drive. In the future we plan to make some significant improvements to the intersection of White Street/Midas Drive and Williston Road as well as the intersection of Hinesburg Road and Williston Road.
Completing the connections of Garden Street to Williston Road and Dorset Street will clear away some of the congestion on Williston Road and Dorset Street heading toward their intersection. Drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians will be able to turn right at Healthy Living and proceed either to interior properties in City Center and/or beyond to either Williston Road or Hinesburg Road. The same will be true southbound on Midas Drive. Completion of Garden Street is a major objective of the City’s infrastructure investments in City Center.
The City has used Tax Increment Financing three previous times to support the construction of City Center Park, Market Street and the new South Burlington Public Library and City Hall. TIFs are financing tools already approved by the State Legislature that allow communities like South Burlington to retain a portion of taxes to pay for public infrastructure that supports the state’s objectives in building vibrant downtowns.
South Burlington has a designated TIF District which is generally the area on both sides of Market Street that we call City Center as well as the area bounded by San Remo Drive and Dorset Street. Properties in the District are currently taxed, as are all properties, for municipal purposes and also for Education. Within the District, when development occurs on a property or properties the difference between what the original tax yielded and the tax on the improved property is called the increment. That increment gets to stay with the City to finance public infrastructure in the District or supporting the District.
Garden Street is an excellent example of needed public infrastructure to support City Center, and that is why South Burlington is allowed to keep incremental tax revenue to support projects like this. One hundred percent of the cost of Garden Street can be paid for through TIF Debt. As such, there will be no additional demand on the property taxpayer in South Burlington to pay for this connection.