Legislature passes tax breaks for development

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky lawmakers signed off Friday on a
bill authorizing tax breaks for projects aimed at boosting a
university research park and spurring soldiers to spend money in
Kentucky instead of Tennessee.
The measure sailed to final passage on a 97-0 House vote, a day
after it cleared the Senate.
Now headed to Gov. Steve Beshear, the proposal authorizes the
use of tax-increment financing to help pay for infrastructure
improvements as roads and utility lines for two proposed
development projects.
"It probably is the largest job-creation bill for the 2011
(legislative) session," Rep. Bob Damron, D-Nicholasville, said of
the measure he sponsored with a host of House members.
Damron said the development projects envisioned for Lexington
and Oak Grove are expected to create more than 5,000 construction
jobs and at least 3,000 permanent jobs from the retail centers once
the developments are completed.
Tax increment financing, or "TIFs," is a state program that
allows a portion of the future taxes generated by a development to
pay for infrastructure improvements that benefit the project.
The legislation gives the state's consent for those tax breaks
to be used for a proposed shopping center at Oak Grove near the
sprawling Fort Campbell Army post straddling the Kentucky-Tennessee
border.
During the Senate debate Thursday night, Sen. Joey Pendleton
said the project is envisioned as an inducement for the soldiers to
spend money in Kentucky instead of Tennessee.
"Right now when they come out the gate, they turn right to go
to Tennessee, and we want them to turn left," Pendleton,
D-Hopkinsville, said in pushing for the bill Thursday night.
Pendleton said TIFs have benefited projects in the state's
largest urban areas and now could be applied to spur economic
growth in a rural swath of western Kentucky.
"When you look at other projects that we've had, the `Golden
Triangle' has turned out very well," Pendleton said of the region
bounded by Louisville, Lexington and the Cincinnati suburbs of
northern Kentucky.
The other project authorized for TIF support would be at the
University of Kentucky's Coldstream Research Campus. Damron said
the plans call for a 35-acre development that would feature
laboratory space, retail shopping and restaurants.
"A TIF district at Coldstream could enable the University of
Kentucky to use taxes generated from a mixed-use 'Town Center'
development to finance new laboratory and incubator space,"
Coldstream executive director George D. Ward said in a statement
Friday. "In turn, it will be a catalyst for creating high-paying
R&D jobs and recruiting new technology-based companies to
Coldstream."
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The legislation is House Bill 310.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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