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Economic development district spending approved

Daily Inter Lake | September 7, 2021 7:00 AM

County commissioners signed off on using targeted economic development district dollars to undertake infrastructure improvements within the Lincoln County Port Authority last month.

The authority sought permission to spend up to $275,000 for a water and sewer connection to the City of Libby, $64,000 for engineering work and a subdivision application, and $12,000 for engineering for a flood plain. Tina Oliphant, director of the Kootenai River Development Council, said the dollars would come out of the economic development district’s budget.

The Lincoln County Port Authority board, which oversees the special district, approved the improvements, she told commissioners Aug. 25.

“We looked at those categories of expenses allowed by the Montana Code Annotated to be [covered] by targeted economic development district dollars and they recommended these three things come out of [those funds],” Oliphant said.

Targeted economic development districts — also known as TEDDs — allow local governments to tap into tax dollars to help offset the cost of improving designated areas of a community. Using tax increment financing, dollars raised in the targeted area go toward covering the cost of upgrades that would make a private developer otherwise blanche.

“Those are some big projects,” said County Commissioner Brent Teske (D-1). “I think you need that. Infrastructure improvement is key down there.”

Teske made the motion to approve the spending. County Commissioner Josh Letcher (D-3) offered a second. The vote was unanimous.

“I love to see this forward motion in infrastructure improvements,” Teske said.