Over the last several years we have heard about the challenges our community faces. At the Farmington City Council Meeting on February 4th I discussed some of those challenges. I talked about seeking funding sources for new ideas that come from our Visioning Plan; the inability to replenish our capital improvements fund and the increasing pace of costs to provide city services.
I concluded with a notion I dubbed “Re-Farmington” which was my way of explaining that we need to seek modern ways to increase taxable values and property tax revenue without increasing our millage rate. Re-Farmington is the repurposing, redevelopment and redeployment of publically owned property to increase the tax base. Economists refer to this as sustainability. It is nothing more than an efficient use of our resources.
On Farmington City Council we have continued discussing that same nagging theme – expenses continue to rise at a faster rate than property tax revenue. The issue of sustainability emphasizes the importance of taking significant and innovative actions.
As a result, “Re-Farmington” needs to be stepped up and discussed as a part of our community wide Visioning Plan.
I have met with Project Innovations, our Visioning Plan facilitator. I shared ideas about repurposing, redeveloping and redeploying public parcels such as: Farmington City Hall, the Farmington Community Library, the Maxfield Training Center, the Farmington Department of Public Works facility on Nine Mile Road, the previous Flanders School property, the Farmington Public Schools facilities on Raphael and lastly the previous 47th District Courthouse on Ten Mile Road.
At my request city administration prepared a taxable equivalency analysis. As contributors to the property tax base these properties could generate annual property tax revenue of an estimated $250,000 or more and increase every year thereafter. To put that in perspective, one millage currently generates about $300,000.
I believe this innovative strategy is well timed for several reasons.
- As leaders in our community we need to provide innovative solutions that will help permanently solve the financial challenges in the present and future. Redeploying these assets to the tax base will generate ongoing and increasing property tax revenue forever.
- Economic development opportunities and interests have restarted.
- Our public schools are going through their own Facilities Study.
- Most importantly we in Farmington are going through our own Visioning Plan and community wide civic engagement of idea sharing for the betterment of Farmington’s future.
These innovative solutions will also provide other valuable benefits. New housing brings new citizens and students for our school district. More people spend more money in our local economy. We would see job growth and the benefits associated with new businesses employing new workers on main street. And lastly, returning City Hall and the Public Library to the private market would literally expand the scope of Downtown Farmington and result in more TIF revenue for the Downtown Development Authority.
Where would we relocate City Hall, the Public Safety Dept. and our Public Library? We can look at several locations such as the property next to Cloverdale school on Freedom Rd. That site is large enough for a new City Hall, Public Safety Dept. and Library if configured properly. It is centrally located within the City boundaries. We could also look at consolidating any of these properties or potentially look towards public-private partnerships within the city. The funding to build new facilities would come from the sale of these municipal assets and have a positive or zero impact on the City’s budget.
There is no doubt our future vision will be great. The ideas I have put on the table need to be vetted, discussed, shaped and refined within our Visioning Plan to position Farmington for long term success.
-Bill Galvin, Mayor Pro Tem
City of Farmington