The developer of a south Jackson housing development is asking Hinds County to support infrastructure developments, but at least one supervisor remains skeptical of the request. Clarence Chapman, principal of Oxford-based Chartre Consulting, appeared before the board of supervisors this morning to discuss his request for tax increment financing, or TIF, funds for infrastructure around the Timber Falls subdivision.
The project's first phase, now complete, consists of 325 single-family homes, which Chapman is leasing with an option to purchase at a reduced price after 15 years. Chapman used low-income housing tax credits to help fund the project, a method that he described as "using what in a lot of areas has been distasteful funding for very tasteful purposes."
The homes have two-car garages and other amenities not commonly associated with affordable housing. All the homes have occupants, and there is a 300-person waiting list, Chapman said.
Chapman is asking the county to help fund a straightening and extension of Forest Hill Road and an extension of Raymond Road to the development, along with accompanying sidewalks and water and sewer lines. The work would carry a total price tag of $3 million, Chapman said. He is asking the county for roughly half that total, with the other half coming from the city of Jackson.
At this morning's work session, Chapman did not provide a specific estimate of the county's contribution, however, saying that he was still working with the county Tax Assessor's office to determine the value of the Timber Falls improvements.
Supervisor Peggy Calhoun appeared skeptical of Chapman's request, warning of the TIF's cost to taxpayers.
Under the TIF agreement, the county would pledge a portion--probably at least 50 percent--of the increased property-tax revenues generated by the development for 20 years. Chapman's firm would use those funds to secure bonds that would finance the infrastructure work.
Chapman emphasized that his TIF request relied on improvements that were already complete, unlike many developers, who ask municipalities to commit TIF funds based on the anticipated value of improvements.
"The point here is, rather than going in and asking them to give us the taxes off of 300 houses that we're going to build--that we borrow on--we have built 325 houses," he told the Jackson Free Press. "We have the tax base. It's a simple mathematical formula that will pay to open daylight into that whole area, developmentally, down there."
Chapman acknowledged that he would likely ask the county for additional TIF help with later phases of Timber Falls, which would ultimately include over 1,000 market-rate houses, a health clinic and other commercial development.
Calhoun told the Jackson Free Press after the meeting that she wanted to ensure that the board received clear information from Chapman's firm.
"They gloss over everything with cream and sugar," Calhoun said.
Calhoun said that conversations with homeowners in the area suggest that crime is a bigger problem in the development than Chapman is acknowledging. "They do have their share of problems," she said.
Still, Calhoun said that she was willing to consider voting for the TIF if the county was assured of receiving some portion of the increased property-tax revenues from the development.
"They are doing some good things," Calhoun said. "Nobody's against affordable housing for anyone."