Document Type

Report

Publication Title

The Sustainable Working Waterfronts Toolkit

Publisher

University of Florida Levin College of Law

Publication Date

3-2013

Publisher location

Gainesville, FL

Abstract/ Summary

Harbors, inner harbors and their navigational connection to the streams of maritime commerce are the economic and cultural lifeblood of most waterfront communities. Oddly, this connection has often been disregarded in the development and financing of municipal plans. Working waterfront communities need to find new and creative means to finance or co-finance improvements to their maritime infrastructure. One such means is through redevelopment planning and the financial vehicle known as Tax Increment Financing (TIF). Typically associated with dry land, TIF allows the incremental increase in property taxes from a base year to be captured from a defined geographic area and used to fund activities within that area. By the end of the 1980s, many states were utilizing TIF to address inner city blight. In most cases, the authorization for TIF remains imbedded in statutes that create “redevelopment districts” – based on statutory definitions of “slum” and “blight.” Because working waterfronts often lie within the urban core, the landside facilities that keep these waterfronts working also lie within these so-called “blight districts.” However, waterfront blight districts can fail to include the waterside of their waterfront, including navigation infrastructure and natural resources that may contribute to both on-water and waterfront blight. Moreover, in many cases, municipal boundaries themselves end at the waterfront, compounding the jurisdictional problem. Expending TIF revenue to support on-water harbor improvements outside these TIF districts and their associated municipalities may be legally problematic. This article explores the issues associated with TIF financing in Florida for maritime infrastructure outside of the redevelopment district that provides the tax increment and suggests options for local governments, including targeted statutory reform.

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