The revitalization of downtown Kirksville set to begin early next year

The City of Kirksville is testing a program that aims to drive downtown business and make the area more attractive.

Using money from the downtown tax increment finance district, the city plans to revamp storefronts and sidewalks around downtown, some of which are more than 100 years old. The pilot downtown revitalization program is set to begin early next year and will focus on the 100 block of West Washington Street — the south edge of The Square — and the 100 block of South Elson Street.

Assistant city manager Ashley Young said the downtown tax increment finance district — or “TIF district” — is a program that began in 2000 to create a fund for downtown improvements. The program uses property and sales tax revenue from 1999 as a baseline. Any property tax revenue above the baseline level goes into the TIF fund, and 50 percent of all sales tax revenue over the 1999 baseline also goes toward the fund. Young said the district does not raise taxes — it simply redirects tax revenue to be used for improvements. The TIF district runs through 2022.

Young said under the revitalization program, the TIF fund will pay for 75 percent of improvements to privately owned storefronts and awnings downtown, with property owners paying the other 25 percent. He said the fund will pay for 100 percent of the cost of sidewalk repairs and any other public improvements that have to be made.

Young said this is not the first TIF project — improvements to pedestrian lighting, sidewalk upgrades and parking lot improvements have all used TIF money in the past. The downtown revitalization program would not be the last project to use money from the fund, but Young said it would be one of the most impactful.

“I think it’s the most significant in terms of the effect it will have on the atmosphere downtown and its attractiveness,” Young said. “I think a more attractive downtown encourages more activity downtown.”

Young said the goal is for the improvement to help existing businesses currently downtown while also attracting new businesses to the business district.