A while ago we received these questions about the DIF, or District Improvement Financing, district from one of the blog readers. I thought I would post the answers here, as it seems to be a topic of interest for many people. There is even more information here and and in the local papers.
Does the Board of Aldermen have to approve the DIF district?
When are they expected to take it up?
This is at the BoA’s discretion. Other issues related to timing have to do with key triggers for FRIT and the schedule for the EACC (the DIF approving body at the ST). For the other DIF we had an optimistic timeline of the BoA approving the application within 5 weeks of submission.
Will public comments be accepted in writing after the public hearing?
The ST requirement is pretty thin (
did 1 day of public comment after their public hearing), but again this is at the BoA’s discretion. Eg, for the larger DIF the Finance Committee is leaving public comment open until December 1. Quincy
Finally, I have read many of the materials and I am a little unclear on how using these funds is any different from borrowing against the City's regular bond cap.
This is not the first time that point has been raised. There are additional flexibilities in financing options under the DIF, but they are minor. My view of the DIF is its real strength lies in its commitment to the development district and, ostensibly, the community and stakeholder buy-in it can engender. This is really better answered in a longer conversation.