Madison nears funding plan to build $37 million ramps to city of Madison

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The city of Madison looks poised to move forward with building the $37 million ramps for westbound traffic on I-565 and creating a freeway allowing customers to the greater city ​​in Alabama to access the isolated development of Town Madison.

The council is set to vote next month on a funding plan that will fund the much-sought-after flyover ramps to bring traffic from Huntsville to retail and restaurant businesses in the sprawling mixed-use development that is also home to Toyota Field. – the Rocket City Trash Pandas baseball home that also serves as the Madison area event center.

Related: As Town Madison celebrates the opening of the I-565 ramp, the exchange turns to conclusion

Key to the project is the plan for Madison to annex the Publix to Clift Farms and access sales tax revenue from the grocery store to help pay for the ramps – which, according to the City of Madison, will bring financial benefits to the city with consumers from Huntsville and other points east having a direct route to development that does not currently exist.

The plan has the endorsement of Rush Rice, a Montgomery-based financial consultant hired by the city who has been working with city leaders on developing a financing plan for the ramps for nearly two years.

Madison Mayor Paul Finley and Councilor Ranae Bartlett — chair of the council’s finance committee — said after Monday’s council meeting they thought the plan under consideration would work. The plan also protects designated property taxes for schools in the city of Madison, Bartlett said.

The board had a first reading of the funding plan at Monday’s meeting and is expected to vote on the plan at its Nov. 14 meeting. None of the board members at Monday’s meeting raised concerns about the funding plan.

Rice made her second presentation Monday to the board on the funding plan in a week, preceded by a working session last week. He said he thinks based on historic tax revenue and Madison’s growth, the ramps could be paid off “in eight or nine years.”

“We think the margin of safety here is extremely high, so the risk that the city would ever have to put something in its budget to support some of that debt would be negligible,” Rice told the board.

Rice pointed out that revenue projections were based on 1.5% growth, a rate he called “conservative.” By comparison, Finley said the city typically bases its annual budget on a conservative growth rate of 3% per year. Rice said the city’s sales tax from the Publix is ​​estimated to be about $700,000 per year using the 1.5% growth rate.

Another aspect of the financing plan is to replace the existing financing plan allowing the city to pay for Town Madison infrastructure and combine it with the issuance of bonds to pay for the ramps that Publix annexation revenue will allow. to pay.

“There’s enough money coming in, in a year within the co-op district of Town Madison, plus the Publix where you can already see where we are on the bail payment for basically the two pieces taking in charging the Town Madison piece and paying for the flyovers,” Finley said. “That’s why we will combine the bonds. And then there’s enough of the two pots where the schools get all their money and the city gets a surplus of money every year.

Finley said the financing plan also allows the city to continue paying for the $46 million Toyota Field. This includes removing Town Madison’s first three hotels from the new funding plan and using hotel revenue to help pay for the stadium. Ballcorps Inc., the Trash Pandas ownership group, owes the city at least $1 million over 30 years to help pay for the stadium as well as other sources of revenue for the city.

Including the ramps, the city will have a total of approximately $78 million invested in Town Madison. Finley said he expected the westbound ramps to increase Huntsville customer traffic and drive more retail investment by private developers in the city of Madison. The eastbound ramp to Town Madison on I-565 opened last year.

“As soon as you have a full exchange and (investors) know it’s coming, it helps fill all of that with quality business,” Finley said.

The flyover impasse has long weighed on Town Madison’s development, which includes apartments and single-family homes in addition to the ballpark, hotels, retail and restaurants. Developer Louis Breland originally promised to pay for the flyovers himself.

Finley said the new arrangement guarantees the flyover ramps will be built and the city will save money in the process compared to Breland’s original plan to pay for it with money generated in the City of Madison that will go to the place in the city. And just as the city paid for the City of Madison’s infrastructure, flyover ramps will now be considered part of that infrastructure, Finley said.

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