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Council approves TIF refinancing

Updated: Monday, December 30 2013, 09:01 PM EST

By Jon Rudder
WHEELING, W.Va - In a special meeting held Monday, Wheeling City Council approved a plan to refinance Tax Increment Finance debt in an effort to lower interest costs in the future.

In 2003, Wheeling developed a TIF district which will run for 30-years until 2033, meaning a bond was already developed for the entire district and adding another bond onto that would not add length to the term.

Regardless wheeling will be financing that debt until 2033 and the passage of this plan will present more financial options for Wheeling.

Three local banks, WesBanco, Main Street Bank and Progressive Bank, will purchase the bonds, which will free up interest costs over the next several decades. Council started considering all of their TIF debt over the summer and with money freed up, there are a number of projects the city could use it for.

"It could be used for arena improvements, property acquisition, demolition," Wheeling City Manager Robert Herron said. "With redevelopment dollars such as that, we were able to accomplish things with Wheeling Jesuit's physical therapy department."

The state requires a tax increment finance project plan, which must be in place to spend TIF dollars. Currently, the city of Wheeling has three plans and the money would need to be spent in one of those defined areas.

"It has to be in a defined area, and basically the defined area is the 1100 block of Main and Market Street, across the creek to include and everything on Main and Market in between," Herron said. "Then the Stone Center is eligible, as is the Capital Theater."

But council isn't locked into spending it on development -- they also have another option for that money.

"If a project doesn't present itself, then that money would be used to pay down principal on the refinanced bonds," Herron said. "So it's really a situation that creates a lot of flexibility with very little risk."

If council approved the refinancing before year's end, it wouldn't count toward the city's 2014 $10 million limit for issuing tax-exempt bonds set by state code.

Council approves TIF refinancing

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