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TIF Rules Could Blast Collier Crossing

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A new Allegheny County Council rule could spell trouble for a proposed shopping center in Collier Township (See City Paper News Feature: "Onorato's Crossing," Sept. 1, www.pittsburghcitypaper.ws/archive.cfm?type=Main%20Feature&action=getComplete&ref=2809). Council on Sept. 7 voted 13-0 to adopt new guidelines for tax-increment financing subsidies, or TIFs. In TIFs, the county, school district and municipality borrow money to help build roads and other infrastructure to help a new development, and pay off the debt using new taxes created by the development. Developers of the proposed Collier Crossing retail/hotel/office complex have asked for a $25 million TIF, which would eat up most of the taxes the county would get from the project for 20 years. Council's new guidelines, though, say the county usually won't forego more than 60 percent of the taxes from a development, and create a "sliding scale" for projects with retail components. That's because retail developments don't create much new wealth. "If it's a 50 percent retail development, and it's normally a 60 percent TIF, then it could go down to 30 percent" of taxes foregone, says Wayne Fontana, chairman of council's Economic Development Committee. Says Fontana to developers: "You'd better come with some real good reasons that we should TIF a retail development in the future."

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