Consultants Say Urban Renewal Feasible in Hermiston

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Consultants hired by the City of Hermiston to study how an Urban Renewal District would work in the city’s downtown core indicated Thursday that a district is financially feasible, even using very conservative revenue projections.

The consultants from Stiven Planning looked into the revenue that would be captured if a URD diverted future increases in assessed value from other taxing bodies into a fund that can only be spent on improvements within the district boundaries.  Many other cities that look into Urban Renewal use a 3% growth rate for forecasting revenues said Marty Stiven, but Hermiston officials directed her to use more conservative numbers of 1.5% and 2.5%.

“For this part of the feasibility study, even with the most conservative estimates, these projects are feasible,” Stiven told the Hermiston Business Advisory Committee.

The feasibility study assumes a 20 year lifetime of the district.  The district could be retired early, or additional projects could be added, if high growth rates bring in revenue higher than expected, Stiven said.

The revenue to fund an Urban Renewal District would be diverted from increased valuation within the district that otherwise would have gone to 11 local taxing bodies, which includes the Hermiston School District.  The school district, however, would not lose any revenue because the State of Oregon is committed to back-filling any revenue lost by school districts to urban renewal districts.  The impact on the remaining taxing districts would be relatively minor said Business Advisory Committee Member Joe Thompson.

“A buck or two from each district is miniscule for what it would mean to this part of the community,” Thompson said.

Invitations to Thursday’s feasibility study presentation were hand-delivered to 75 businesses located within the proposed Urban Renewal District.  After hearing the feasibility presentation, the Business Advisory Committee will decide at its meeting in November whether it will recommend that the City Council move forward with forming an Urban Renewal District.  If the City Council agrees to move forward with forming a URD, then work will begin to identify specific district boundaries, projects, and district lifetime.  Only projects that are included in an approved URD plan can have district money spent on them.

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