June 22, 2011

Much has changed in Temple’s aesthetic over the last 30 years, but perhaps equally altered are the little things we all use daily but don’t often give second thought.

Those things include capital improvements, such as better roads, culverts to direct rainfall and new and larger water lines to serve more residents. More than $63 million of such changes in certain parts of the city have been funded by the city’s reinvestment zone, a little-known but highly effective tool designed to spur economic development and improve capital infrastructure.

Since its creation in 1982, the zone has funded the construction of Pepper Creek Trail, multiple business parks, multi-million dollar water detention ponds and Loop 363 improvements.

Temple city attorney Jonathan Graham said the zone is a boon for both residents and businesses.

“The willingness and ability of the city to provide new infrastructure has encouraged businesses to relocate to Temple and create jobs and create taxable real and personal property,” he said. “It has also encouraged existing businesses to stay in Temple, and to keep their operations here, while expanding their businesses and creating new jobs. Thousands of jobs have been created by new businesses or expanded existing businesses.”

Wal-Mart, Pactiv, McLane Co., Inc., Wilsonart International, Inc. and H-E-B Grocery Co. are in the zone, and constitute five of the six largest taxpaying businesses in Bell County.

So, what exactly is the reinvestment zone? It’s a somewhat complicated entity, but essentially the zone earmarks property taxes assessed on the improved value for capital improvements in the zone. For example, say someone pays $100 in property taxes the first year in the zone. The next year, that property value increases and $110 in ad valorem taxes are paid. That $10 extra goes into a pot that’s used to build roads and waterlines that serve the zone.

There are actual multiple zones around town, all clustered around industrial and business-heavy areas. The zone that’s the largest, oldest and includes the most businesses is in north and northwest spans from Highway 317 on the west to the railroad tracks east of Interstate 35 on the east, and from roughly Nugent Road northward to the city limits.

Between1982 and 2009, the amount of taxable real property within the boundaries of the zone increased from $22.8 million to $254.6 million, a growth rate of more than 1,000 percent.

Graham said that while the city doesn’t track personal property growth in the zone, an analysis of the 10 largest taxpayers suggested that for every $1 of real property improvements there were between $3 and $5 of personal property improvements.
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Reinvestment Zone
Some of the more visible Reinvestment Zone projects include:

  • Pepper Creek Trail, $2.3 million
  • Temple Rail Park, $9.5 million
  • Airport Park, $4 million
  • Enterprise Park, $2.6 million
  • Two detention ponds, $5.4 million
  • Wendland Road, $4 million
  • Loop 363 improements, $9.5 million

About Temple:
Temple, Texas is a community with a diverse economic base that includes healthcare, distribution and warehousing, and manufacturing as the foundation. Within 180 miles of a population of 17.8 million, Temple is in a strategic location that is central within the southwest U.S. marketplace.