City of Tyler request for tax increment reinvestment zone extensions receives pushback in Smith County Commissioners Court

City of Tyler request for tax increment reinvestment zone extensions receives pushback
Published: Oct. 24, 2023 at 3:34 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 24, 2023 at 6:38 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - A request from the City of Tyler was met with some pushback Tuesday at a regular meeting of the Smith County Commissioners Court. The city’s request deals with two tax increment zones. Zones in which tax dollars from that area are reinvested in that area.

City leaders came before commissioners, asking them to extend the life of the two reinvestment zones. One covers downtown Tyler, while the other covers northern parts of the city. The plan calls for a 100% commitment from the county, which would gain equal representation on each zone’s board.

“We’re talking about identifying an area that’s really primed for reinvestment, and then taking those tax dollars, that incremental revenue, back into that district and reinvesting into that district,” said Heather Nick, assistant city manager for the City of Tyler.

It’s an effort Smith County Pct. 4 Commissioner Ralph Caraway, Sr. believes could be helpful, especially in the northernmost zone.

“For that area to be developed economically, it changes the whole dynamics of the county, the community, and the city,” Caraway said. “Because of the disparity that’s taken place with economic development in the northern part of the county.”

The northern TIRZ was set to expire in 2038, while the downtown zone was set to expire in 2046. The city says economic development, both guaranteed and expected, calls for an extension.

“Sometimes it’s just making sure that you give a district enough time to start to see that development and redevelopment,” said Nick.

Smith County Pct. 3 Commissioner Terry Phillips voiced his opposition to the plan, saying the county will miss out on tax money generated in these areas, with no promise of development.

“Leave it alone and the county will benefit from it when those TIRZ run out,” Phillips said. “In my opinion, it’s not of value to Smith County taxpayers that pay Smith County tax rates.”

Also voicing concern was Tom Fabry of Grassroots America: We the People, who asked the court to hold off on making a decision until citizens had a chance to review the plans. A request granted when the court decided to postpone a vote.

“I think postponing on the two agenda items was the right thing to do,” said Smith County Judge Neal Franklin.

Franklin said while the benefits for Smith County may be tough to see, he believes they are there --pointing out that each commissioner’s precinct includes a portion of the city of Tyler.

“It’s interesting how they overlap and sometimes it’s easy to forget that,” Franklin said. “We have a city within the county and there’s boundaries for that, but in reality, we’re building a new courthouse. Well, the entire county is going to benefit from the new courthouse. We’re building the parking garage, the whole county, all the constituents out there, the citizens of the county are going benefit from that.”

SEE BELOW: Presentations shown in commissioner’s court on Tuesday.