JOPLIN, MO.---"A lot the last two weeks. I mean it's everyday meetings, everyday conference calls," says Dr. C.J. Huff, Joplin Schools Superintendent.
Weeks worth of meetings paid off today. Joplin School Board members recommended that the district's superintendent and chief financial officer approve the Tax Increment Financing District plans on Friday. They will have 2 of 11 votes on the TIF commission.
"We set out initially to do two things. Number one, protect our taxpayers and continue to support our kids," says Dr. Huff.
The school district's biggest concern was an immediate loss of revenue due to the tornado. School leaders say they would need $15 million to close the funding gap.
"The numbers we used as a school district were actual numbers based on our best estimates associated with what it costs to educate a child, what it costs to build a school," says Dr. Huff.
In an agreement between city leaders, Wallace-Bajjali developers, and Joplin Schools, the district will not receive any money from the TIF agreement for at least two years. They will get $13 million some time during the 3rd year of the agreement. That will be followed by $1.6 million from the TIF reserve. Finally, $1.4 million will be given by year five. Another challenge school board members expect is the potential student population growth in the TIF area.
"We don't know what kind of growth this community is going to have, and for us to lock on, right now, for our budget for 23 years down the road, that's kind of hard to do," says Randy Steele, Board of Education President.
The agreement states $3,925 will be financed per new student depending upon actual enrollment growth district wide. The two sides also agreed the TIF will not exceed 23 years. TIF bonds issued will not be more than $42 million for the life of the TIF. Extra revenue will be used as an early payoff for the bonds taken out. Any surplus after the bonds are paid off will be redistributed to other entities in the TIF District.
"I think some exciting things are on the horizon for this community and we're excited to be a part of it," says Steele.
The next step in this process will be a TIF work session Friday afternoon followed by an official vote by the commission. City officials have until December 31st to officially adopt the TIF ordinance.