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City of Missoula considers two additional urban renewal districts

By Faith Smith, KECI Reporter, fcronin@keci.com
Published On: Oct 28 2013 09:30:33 PM MDT
Updated On: Oct 28 2013 09:59:11 PM MDT
City of Missoula considers two additional urban renewal districts
MISSOULA, Mont. -

The city of Missoula has four urban renewal districts and now they're considering two more. One would lie south of Interstate 90 between North Reserve and Scott Street, the other runs along East Broadway between Madison Street and East Missoula.

City leaders believe improvements could result in an improved economy.

How it works is portion of the property taxes collected in a given district are used for improvements in that district.

“It's all about economic development and it's about improving an area,” says Ellen Buchanan, director of the Missoula Redevelopment Agency.  “It's about increasing tax base and it's about improving the quality of life in those areas.”
Buchanan tells NBC Montana there is no tax increase involved if two more urban renewal districts are created.  

“If somebody comes in and builds a new house that's new property taxes, it didn't exist before, so this was an empty lot or whatever it was, so that's increment,” says Buchanan.  “They're just paying the same property taxes they would if they built a new house in the Rattlesnake but in this instance if it’s in an urban renewal district that new tax revenue gets spent back in their neighborhood.”

City leaders say the creation of two new districts would improve neighborhoods and create jobs.

Infrastructure could be built on vacant land in both of the proposed districts, meaning more tax revenue for city.

“If someone comes along and they build a new building, there's new property taxes created from that and those new taxes go into a fund called the "tax increment fund," says Buchanan.  “Those have to be spent back in that district and they can't be used, for example, to build a new fire station in the south end of town.”

Now the Missoula Redevelopment Agency will do a study of both proposed districts and come up with improvement plans.