Official election results: Fraser’s Downtown Development Authority passes by 1 vote

The area highlighted in yellow on the map are the boundaries of the downtown development authority district now that it was approved by Fraser voters.
Town of Fraser/Courtesy image

Fraser’s ballot issues A and B, which were related to the formation of a Fraser Downtown Development Authority, both passed according to the official election results released April 11 by the town. The unofficial results released April 3 had Question A failing by four votes and Question B tied. Official results may include ballots from citizens and military personnel living abroad known as UOCAVA ballots and returned discrepancy ballots.

The results for trustees and mayor did not change.

Ballot issue A passed by one vote with 43 votes in favor and 42 against. Ballot issue A asked voters to approve an authorization of a total debt amount of up to $25 million over the 30 year lifetime of the downtown development authority.

Ballot issue B passed with 45 votes in favor and 40 against. This ballot issue allows for the formation of a Fraser Downtown Development Authority, which is often referred to as a DDA, to implement a plan of development within the specified area.

What is a downtown development authority?

DDAs are quasi-governmental entities whose primary objective is to create a development plan for the central business district and facilitate the economic development of properties within the district boundaries. They plan and develop public facilities, like streets, sidewalks and parking garages in the district.

At least five, but no more than 11 members serve on the authority. The Fraser Board of Trustees appoints members to serve on the DDA. One member must also be a member of the board. Employees of the town cannot serve on the DDA.

How’s it funded?

Ballot issue A provided a debt authorization for the DDA. The town may be authorized to borrow money and incur debt in the form of bonds, notes and contracts that are the financial obligation on behalf of the DDA, however the town is not liable for this debt.

These bonds and contracts are paid back through tax increment financing revenues known as TIF. This then allows the DDA to finance the upfront costs of improvements within the district.

Tax increment fundraising typically fund DDAs. Municipalities decide whether to fund a DDA through property tax or municipal sales tax. This type of increment fundraising “is a new source of tax revenue, not an additional tax, that would not be available but for new investment,” according to Fraser’s website.

The local governing body “freezes” property taxes or municipal sales taxes at the date of the creation of the DDA. When funds generated from municipal sales tax increase above the frozen amount set at the date of adoption, the local governing body assigns excess revenue to the DDA.

When property tax evaluations increase — when property within the DDA boundary becomes more valuable, funding for the DDA increases. Trustees have referred to the property tax funding as an improvement funding mechanism.

As the DDA improves property tax evaluations in the central business district, it receives more funding.

There is some risk to the bond buyer or investor since repayment is only through tax increment financing revenues. If property values do not increase, development does not occur as quickly as expected or if the TIF time period expires before the bonds are repaid, then the bond buyer or investor lose out on their investment.

Charley Sutherland contributed reporting to this article.

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