- By John Horner /Missoulian
The Missoula Downtown Association strongly supports the use of tax increment financing to assist Play Ball Missoula with the debt on the baseball stadium that will be owned by the City of Missoula.
Tax increment financing is a tool to leverage private investment in an urban renewal district. This facility is an exceptional amenity for our community and has led to the additional development of Silver Park and the riverfront trail system, including trail linkages, timber frame structures, a boat ramp, parking and more. The development of the Old Sawmill District will turn a blighted, weed-infested, fire-damaged property into a beautiful neighborhood development that will bring housing, businesses, jobs and taxes to our city.
The unanimous support of the Missoula Redevelopment Agency Board of Directors indicates this is a priority project for Urban Renewal District II.
It’s important for all community members to understand that tax increment dollars are not taxes paid by citizens at large, but rather the increase in taxes paid by property owners within an urban renewal district when property values rise from redevelopment. There is a significant difference. In the long term, this economic development tool allows us to eliminate blight, build public and private infrastructure, and increase the tax base without increasing taxes for the general population.
The Downtown Master Plan calls for using public resources to attract private investment. Play Ball Missoula raised more than $5 million from the private sector to build the stadium, and we have not used general taxes to support that facility.
That stadium has been a major economic driver in this community. Events held there have provided a significant number of jobs, contracts for vendors, dollars for local businesses, and tax revenues for our community. It serves as a tourist destination, as well as an attraction for those who live here. Why wouldn’t we want to support that?
In addition, the owners of Mountain Baseball have created hundreds of job opportunities for our residents, as well as opportunities for countless nonprofit organizations in Missoula to generate revenues and awareness for their causes. Additionally, Mountain Baseball owners and representatives have invested significant resources of time and money in Missoula. They have spearheaded redevelopment projects, contributed significantly to our tax base, and contribute thousands of hours of volunteer service and leadership to a variety of organizations and programs that are benefitting our community in many ways.
The MDA encourages the Missoula City Council to support the Missoula Redevelopment Agency’s use of additional tax increment financing to pay down some of the debt incurred to build the stadium. It’s a good investment and worthy of our community resources.