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Governor Phil Scott and Winooski Officials Celebrate the Success of the Onion City’s 20-year Tax Increment Financing District

January 31, 2024

Winooski, Vt. - Governor Phil Scott was joined by Winooski Mayor Kristine Lott and other local and state leaders today to celebrate the overwhelming success of Winooski’s TIF District which has led to more jobs, more housing, and an increase in the grand list and contributions to the state education fund.

“Winooski is a shining star of Vermont’s TIF program and demonstrates the possibilities when government provides incentives for the private sector to invest,” said Governor Phil Scott. “This small city has made tremendous strides in the last 20 years. Today, Winooski boasts a thriving downtown for residents and visitors alike to enjoy.”

“We are so excited to celebrate the close out of the TIF debt, a milestone for the completion of Winooski's downtown revitalization,” said Winooski Mayor Kristine Lott. “This tool was critical to supporting the transformation of our downtown into Vermont's Opportunity City, our community's vision of a vibrant, walkable place to work, live, and play.”

Projects funded using TIF include water, sewer, and stormwater system improvements, development of a riverwalk overlooking the Winooski River, transportation enhancements and streetscape, the creation of Rotary Park inside the rotary, addition of a municipal parking garage, and electrical substation improvements.

Public investments have spurred further development by the private sector. Since 2004, the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC) and the Community College of Vermont built new buildings within the TIF; the Champlain Mill along the Winooski River was transformed; a former KeyBank that sat empty at the corner of Main Street and West Allen Street is now a thriving brewery and restaurant; and five housing developments were built, adding 438 units of new stock.

These projects grew the grand list and increased property value in the city. Winooski’s grand list grew from $25 million in 2004 to $104 million today.

That means more statewide property tax collections from Winooski. In 2004 the city sent $519,787 to Montpelier. In 2025, Winooski estimates it will send $2.1 million.

“TIF is an invaluable economic development tool,” said Economic Development Commissioner Joan Goldstein. “Today we are honoring Winooski for their success, but they are not the only ones. St. Albans, South Burlington, Hartford, Milton, and Killington are all examples where TIF is being used right now to facilitate smart growth and make improvements that will spur further investment and improve the livability and vitality of those communities.”

“It’s wonderful to start off my time as Executive Director of the Vermont Economic Progress Council with such a joyous celebration,” said Jessica Smith Hartleben. “I look forward to helping other communities take advantage of TIF to help them increase their grand lists and improve public infrastructure to attract new investments and bring visitors to our communities.”

Winooski is not done. The city has issued a permit for soil remediation for a parcel along Abenaki Way and has a development agreement in place with a partner that is working on a new parking garage, hotel, and an additional 83 units of workforce housing that should be completed by next year.

Winooski is scheduled to make its TIF final debt payment in May.  The TIF District is set to officially close in June.

About Vermont’s TIF Program

For further details, visit the Agency of Commerce and Community Development website.

What is TIF?

Tax Increment Financing (TIF) is a tool that municipalities use to finance improvements for public infrastructure like streets, sidewalks, and storm water management systems. TIF leverages additional private investment that builds and renovates the housing, commercial, and retail space needed to grow jobs and the local economy. TIFs created since 2006 must be in a high density or compact area, an approved downtown or growth center, or an economically distressed area.

How does TIF work?

After a TIF District is created by the municipality consistent with Vermont Statutes, the TIF District and Financing plans are then considered for approval by Vermont Economic Progress Council (VEPC).  Once these plans are approved by VEPC, voters authorize municipal bonds or other debt to finance construction or improvement of public infrastructure to serve the TIF District. As the infrastructure is built and improved, the private sector follows with investments in new and renovated buildings. This private investment incrementally increases the value of the grand list. The boost in the value of the grand list and the generation of incremental revenue are the result of the TIF financing that paid for the infrastructure improvements that attracted new investment, business, and visitors.

During the life of the TIF, the municipality may use a portion of Education Property Tax revenues to finance the TIF District’s debt. At the end of the TIF, the municipality must send all Education Property Tax revenues to the State of Vermont.

Who oversees TIF? 

VEPC oversees Vermont’s TIF program. VEPC is an independent body comprised of 11 members – nine appointed by the Governor and two appointed by the General Assembly.