Investing in Our Future

In November 2016, the Howard County Council approved a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) plan for public improvements in Downtown Columbia, the first phase of which will be to issue bonds that will result in net construction proceeds of approximately $90 million (and a total of $170 million to complete public improvements for all phases of the Merriweather District’s development). The bonds are backed by incremental property tax revenue generated by the new development.

Property owners in Howard County will never pay the special tax and will never be taxed to pay for these public improvements – even if the development fails. In the unlikely event that a particular development is insufficient to generate enough additional tax revenue to pay the debt service, the developer – not the County – is responsible for the debt service and has backed the bond issuances with its land.

TIF was included in the Downtown Columbia Plan because it is the most effective tool to fund public infrastructure improvements that provide significant public benefits. In addition to directly financing new roadway improvements and the new public parking structure mentioned above, by facilitating the new development it will generate new revenue to support:

  • A new elementary school – $45 million
  • A new fire station – $30 million
  • A new library – $40 million
  • A new arts center – $20 million
  • Transportation improvements – $75 million
  • A new transit center – $9.5 million

As of October 2017, $48 Million of bonds have been issued for infrastructure costs related to the development of Merriweather District. The proceeds will fund road work improvement of Merriweather Drive, Divided Sky Lane, extension of Hickory Ridge Road, Symphony Woods Road as well as improvements to storm water management and water and sewer lines.

In addition, a fiscal impact analysis shows that Howard County will realize surplus tax revenues of more than $410 million over 35 years from the Columbia Downtown Development District. That’s more than $11.7 million per year.