By Hannah Wiest
The Sheridan Press
SHERIDAN — Sheridan City Council unanimously approved on first reading Monday night an ordinance that will create a downtown development authority for Sheridan.
It is the hope of the city and organizations like the Downtown Sheridan Association that a DDA will enable greater efforts and funding resources to be focused on business and economic development efforts in a specified downtown district.
The Sheridan Downtown Development Authority will be a statutory agency that can create and implement development projects such as capital construction and improvement, the acquisition and sale of property to provide incentives for development, parking solutions, development partnerships and other enhancements — such as helping with sidewalk snow removal — that will foster economic vitality.
The DDA would also have greater access to funding sources than the current Downtown Sheridan Association does, DSA board member John Smith said. This would include tax increment financing.
Tax increment financing is a public financing method used to subsidize development. It uses future gains in taxes to subsidize current improvement projects that are projected to create the needed conditions — such as more businesses creating more property and sales tax income — to create gains in taxes for a community.
Essentially, the city will establish a baseline figure for sales tax income. If income from sales tax rises above that baseline figure, the DDA will receive a portion or percentage of the increase above the baseline figure.
“We won’t be taking any money away that’s already allotted. It would be after things start increasing, after that baseline is drawn, then we would start. And we don’t know what that increase is,” Smith said. “The economy, we’re hoping, is on the verge of rebounding. Housing is looking good, many things are looking good, so now’s a good time to establish that baseline and get on with this.”
Smith said the DSA has been pursuing creation of a downtown development authority for nearly 20 years. It will require two more readings by city council to receive final approval.
In other business:
• Issue: The boundaries of Wards 2 and 3 need to be changed as a technical clean-up due to legislative redistricting.
• Discussion: This was the second reading for Ordinance 2142. Mayor Dave Kinskey asked City Clerk Scott Badley to report at the next city council about the history of wards in Sheridan, why they are used, and whether or not wards could be at-large instead, meaning anyone in the city could run for an open city councilor seat rather than the seat being restricted to someone in a certain ward.
• Action: The ordinance was approved on second reading. Badley will report at the next city council meeting Feb. 3.
• Issue: An old resolution regarding the way vacant city council seats are filled needed to be updated to meet the requirements of open meetings laws since the old resolution allowed secret votes on new councilors. Also, a vacancy of one seat in Ward 3 after the resignation of City Councilor Levi Dominguez needed to be declared.
• Discussion: Badley said even though secret votes were allowed, the city has historically held public meetings to discuss and vote on new council candidates. He said the resolution just needed to be updated to reflect that practice.
• Action: The council voted to approve Resolution 03-14 to update how council seats were filled. The council also voted to declare a seat in Ward 3 on City Council as open. At this time, Badley said, anyone living in Ward 3 can submit an application to fill the seat. However, it may become possible that anyone in the city will be allowed to apply if the city changes its system of using wards for representation.