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Mayor: Future is bright thanks to TIF District

By Van Mitchell

Mayor Randy Ross said Choctaw was looking at ways to increase its budget revenue stream, and city officials created a Tax Increment Financial District, which in turn created the Markets at Choctaw.

TIF districts are used by cities in Oklahoma to promote private development. A portion of taxes generated with the district are used to invest in the district’s infrastructure or fund other economic development projects. New development in the district leads to higher property values and the increase in city tax revenue is reinvested within the district.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Commerce website, the City of Choctaw created its Tax Increment Financing District No. 1 in 2009, in an area generally described as approximately 311 gross acres along the commercial corridor north and south of NE 23rd Street between Louise Drive and North Choctaw Road, for infrastructure and site improvements to facilitate development of retail shopping, office, and/or residential uses.

“In Oklahoma, cities live and die off of sales tax,” Ross said. “Without getting new businesses in, and developing that area, Choctaw was never going to go anywhere. We had to get creative. We funded a TIF, and eventually landed Wal-Mart. That was our anchor, and we have gone after other businesses, which you see including Arby’s and Taco Bell. We had a hiccup after the pandemic, but we are back after it, and look to put in three or four more stores, and we will get a second hotel, at least announced, all before I leave office this next year.”

Ross said the City used TIF funding to extend a street on the north end of the Markets at Choctaw. He said Sooner Development will build the new roadway.

“On the North side where the (current) hotel is, that street dead ends, but we will continue that through to Grand on Harper,” he said. “Where Harper and Grand intersect, it (new road) will come on across right in front of where we anticipate where the second hotel will go.”

Ross said Choctaw’s revenue budget has increased because of the TIF district.

“Our budget was about $1 million before we put in that TIF, and built that out,” he said. “Today, it is about $9 million.”

Ross said the TIF district will end on Dec. 31, 2023.

“You can talk to bond advisors, and they will tell you this is the most successful TIF in the state,” Ross said. “We took a non-existent, blighted area, and turned it into something good. This has certainly met what we intended for it to do. It is not built out. It will be years before it is totally built out. It depends on how quickly we recruit businesses. It has been a success all the way around.”


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