Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a TIF and how does a TIF District operate?

TIF stands for Tax Increment Finance. TIF Districts are created after the process of developing a Redevelopment Plan that identifies blighted conditions within a set boundary. The incentives are created and funded by the projects within the TIF District for use in the TIF district. It does not get funding from any area that is not a TIF district.

TIF is a method to use future gains in property taxes to subsidize current improvements, which are projected to create the conditions for gains above the routine yearly increases which often occur without the improvements. In a TIF District, there is a predevelopment baseline taxable value established at the beginning of the TIF District. Improvements made typically generate an increased taxable value. The increment between the predevelopment baseline taxable value and the post development taxable value are captured for the TIF District to use for their programs.

2. Is the incentive considered taxable income?

You will be issued a 1099-Misc for the total amount of the incentive funds issued regarding your project. You will want to check with your tax advisor regarding the impact on your specific tax situation.

3. Will a BRTA Incentive increase my property taxes?

Any investment you make in your property may affect your property taxes. Any improvements to a property may affect property values.

Homeowners and businesses may see an increase in their property taxes, but only in proportion to the increase in the value of their property–the same if you were not in a TIF district or not receiving any financial incentives. Please contact the Washington County Tax Assessors office for more information.

4. Will my information be shared with anyone else?

All BRTA records fall under the State Open Records Act, and thus are open to the public upon request. Updates are given periodically to the BRTA Board, City Council, and County Assessor's Office as well as accounting reports and a project matrix, which outlines the total spent on a project and the BRTA incentive investment.

5. Can I start on my project before I get approval from the BRTA if I am applying for an incentive?

NO. If you are applying for an incentive that involves improvements to a building or land, you must get BRTA approval for the project BEFORE any work begins including, but not limited to demolition, ordering supplies, production of architectural features, and some professional services to design the project. A project may exclude some construction work or professional services that are considered discovery or due diligence including, but not limited to an appraiser or a structural engineer that might determine if your project is feasible. Some soft costs are not covered by the incentive. Please speak to the BRTA before that work and document that work in detail prior to beginning the work. The earlier you include the BRTA in the planning of the project the better.

6. If I am applying for a BRTA incentive do I need Design Review of my project?

All properties in the Downtown Commercial Increment District (TIF1) and Capital Hill Increment District (TIF2) require Design Review of the Exterior and Approval by the BRTA Board of Trustees if you are applying for incentive funds. The BRTA may at their discretion require additional items or elements that will affect the design of your project to access TIF district funds.

7. Do I still have to obtain Design Review if I am not requesting BRTA funds?

Yes, if you are making any exterior improvements and your property is located in TIF1 or TIF2 (see map) you must obtain Design Review Approval from the City of Bartlesville. Please see the Planning Department located at City Hall for application and requirements.

8. Is the work on my property through the Incentives considered repairs or Improvements to my building?

For the sake of the Incentive programs under the BRTA all work on your buildings are considered improvements. Please consult your tax advisor to find out how this incentive will affect your federal and state taxes. Please contact the Washington County Assessor’s Office to determine how it will affect your local taxes.

9. Can my own labor be included in the grant or match amount for an incentive?

Labor by an applicant is considered Sweat Equity and cannot be counted toward any incentive. In the case where an owner wants to use his or her own labor only material costs are eligible.

10. If I own a company that provides a service or is a contractor/subcontractor, may I use that company to perform the work on my own project?

If a company is used that the applicant owns or is affiliated, the receipts for the work must document that the labor was paid to employees, not the applicant. The documentation will be required to show time sheets and paychecks to employees that link it to the address of the project in the application. However, no funds may go directly to the owner of the company if that owner is the applicant.

11. Are there any restrictions that I need to be aware of with regard to my property to be eligible for an incentive from the BRTA?

To be eligible all property taxes must be current (paid in full) as documented by the Washington County Treasurer’s Office. All taxes must remain current for the next five (5) years after the project is completed. BRTA will check the tax records for compliance. If the taxes are not paid in full, the BRTA may ask for the incentive funds to be returned.

12. What regulations are there for contractors to complete work on a project?

All contractors performing work on the project must have a current Business License from the City of Bartlesville. Please contact the City Planning Department located on the second floor of City Hall if a license is needed.

13. How is the development financing assistance incentive calculated?

The Development Financing Assistance incentive can be a low-interest or market rate loan or forgivable loan and is calculated on the amount of the investment and improvements made on a project and the incremental property tax that will be generated from those improvements. The typical incentive percentage may be between 4% and 15% of the project and the payback in incremental property taxes generated on the project in the TIF district is typically based on five years. However, variables do exist with regard to the incentive percentage and payback period on projects. 

Typically, the BRTA looks at how much of an investment is being made; if the project is going to have a significant positive impact on the area, a building or a lot; how the project contributes to the overall improvement of the district or the surrounding houses or buildings; how the project fits within the Downtown Master Plan; and if there is a significant value being added in terms of office and/or retail and/or restaurant/entertainment and/or residential space. Increases in sales and/or lodging taxes may also play a role. Will it rehabilitate a blighted, vacant, or underutilized property? Will it help preserve the downtown integrity or character? Will it be a catalyst for other projects? These and other questions may be given consideration.  Every project is different.  No two projects are alike and therefore each project is considered on a case by case basis.

14. What is the Design & Compliance Services Grant?

This grant requires a matching portion and is utilized to supplement professional services when an unintended issue comes up that needs professional services to solve it or that may enhance the project. It can be related to design, financing, architecture, structural, environmental, market studies, historic preservation, law, tax, etc. It can be also be used for feasibility studies. Only qualified professionals may perform the work.

15. What is the Environmental Remediation and Code Compliance Grant?

The trigger to use this program is to remove blight from a property first and foremost.  Blight is defined as "a structure or building which itself, by reason of dilapidation, deterioration, or unsanitary or unsafe conditions, endangers life or property by fire or other causes, or is conducive to ill health, transmission of disease, mortality, juvenile delinquency, or crime and by reason thereof is detrimental to the public health, safety, or welfare.”  

This program is a grant that requires a matching portion. It is used for either environmental remediation of lead-based paint, asbestos, significant mold, or soil contamination, (which will involve professional testing for those items by certified professionals), and/or it can also help cover code issues including electrical, plumbing, HVAC, and in some cases, health, safety, and fire.  The project must include one or more of the above items but the rest of the project can include more general renovation costs.

16. What is the Facade Improvement Program?

The Facade Improvement Program is only available in the Downtown Commercial Increment District (TIF 1). It is a grant that requires a matching portion. The grant is used for improvements to vertical sides of a building and can include a number of elements including but not limited to storefronts and storefront windows, bulkheads, doors, transom windows, upper-story windows, masonry, historic elements, parapets, awnings, signs, lighting, and balconies. If it is attached to the vertical exterior of the building it may be considered. The project must comply with all building codes and Design Review.

17. What is the Blight Removal and Remediation Program?

The Blight Removal and Remediation Program is used for the removal of blight, defined as a structure or building which itself, by reason of dilapidation, deterioration, or unsanitary or unsafe conditions, endangers life or property by fire or other causes, or is conducive to ill health, transmission of disease, mortality, juvenile delinquency, or crime and by reason thereof is detrimental to the public health, safety, or welfare; and/or contaminated conditions such as the remediation of as lead-based paint, mold, soil contaminants, and asbestos. It authorizes the BRTA to acquire properties if needed and make them available for development.

18. What is the Public Infrastructure Improvement Program?

The Public Infrastructure Improvement Program is designed to assist the City in financing needed improvements to the public infrastructure located within the Downtown Redevelopment District.

19. What is the Infill Housing Program?

The In-Fill Housing Program will authorize the acquisition of vacant lots within the residential areas of the Capitol Hill Project Area, and the construction of new single-family or multi-family residential structures thereon. Following completion of the construction, the Authority would have the option of either selling the new structure(s), or leasing it, with the stipulation that, in either case, the new home or apartments be used for residential purposes. 

20. What documentation is required at the end of the project to get the incentive funds?

BRTA incentive payments are transparent to the public. Because these funds are public funds derived from incremental property taxes they are subject to proof of work and payment.  All incentives are reimbursements unless special accommodations are made prior to BRTA Board Approval. 

If a building permit or individual permits are involved, you must have a Certificate of Occupancy or a receipt from the inspector showing the workmanship passed inspection. 

For developers or owners that are doing the project themselves or have construction company that is affiliated with them through an ownership interest, all invoices and individual receipts pertaining to the job must be paid and original or copies of those invoices and receipts must be made available to the BRTA for review and approval.  The paid invoices and receipts must have the address of the project clearly shown.  If a project owner or developer uses a separate general contractor, draw invoices from the general contractor with a description of the work accomplished on each invoice will be acceptable. 

Copies of the payments (canceled checks and/or a bank statement showing the payment has cleared) from those paid invoices and receipts must be provided for proof of payment. Credit Card statements must correspond with individual receipts and payment of the credit card statement must also be included. All general hourly laborers hired by the owner/developer must be documented with time sheets, descriptions of work, and copies of their paychecks. No funds can be paid to the project developer, owner, or family member of the owner or developer because of sweat equity rules. 

For all projects a worksheet in an excel or similar format that shows the columns for vendor name, short description of the performed work, invoice number, date of paid invoice, and date of canceled check and canceled check number or date of cleared payment on a bank statement should be listed. Each row should correspond to the vendor invoice being submitted. Arranging paid receipts accompanied by copies of canceled checks or a transaction receipt on a bank statement in order of date corresponding to the worksheet is requested.   In some instances information may be required to be certified by a third-party CPA.

All invoices, receipts, canceled checks, and transaction receipts will become property of the BRTA.  The records are held for inspection by the public if an Open Records Act request is made.  The completeness of the records will benefit you and the BRTA if an Open Records Request is made.

21. How long does it take to get an incentive check once the project is complete?

After verification of all work and qualified receipts have been completed, an incentive check will be issued within fifteen (15) business days. Most times it will be within 5 business days.


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