JAY – Delaware County Commissioners tabled a decision regarding the development of a TIF district during an unusually crowded meeting Monday morning.

Dan Batchelor, representing the Center for Economic Development Law, was on hand to recommend that the board take the process of redeveloping what was formerly Shangri-La further by forming a viewing committee, the development of a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district and holding public meetings concerning the proposed project, located on Monkey Island.

The establishment of a TIF locks in the property tax for a set number of years on the value of the property in question, with 25 years being the maximum allowed. Once the TIF is established, all increases in the tax each year are given back to the landowner.

The creations of a TIF district allows for the promotion of economic development according to proponents.

Those who oppose opposition the TIF district say it takes money from the school district for the years that the tax is locked in.

Commissioners approved hiring the Center for Economic Development Law for legal consulting services concerning the development and tourism on Monkey Island by the recommendation of the District Attorney in October of last year.

According to Batchelor, the Monkey Island project would generate new investment, create new revenue, and employment and help the county regain a tourism opportunity that was lost when the resort closed.

Grove Schools Superintendent Tom Steen expressed his concern over revenue that Grove School System would lose should the TIF be created.

Batchelor told him that they would not have any figures until the board decided to move forward with the creation of the committee, which would be the next step.

Batchelor’s contention is that when the restructured resort is open for business, it will draw more tourism into the Grand Lake region.

Concern was also expressed by a gentleman in the audience who told the board that he travels all over the country for his employer and he sees a lot of beautiful resorts and motels that are closed. He said that remodeling a place does not guarantee that people will come to stay there.

Others expressed concern over the country being in a recession and the high costs of fuel, which in their opinions, would keep families and business people from traveling.

Should the commissioners approve moving forward, the TIF district on Monkey Island will be the first county TIF and the first resort TIF in the state of Oklahoma.

All three items concerning the declaration of intent to consider the creation of a TIF were tabled for one week on recommendation of Assistant District Attorney Nick Lelecas who said the agenda items were unclear to the public.

In other matters Monday morning:

• Eric Daniels, District Conservationist, told the board that he needed landowners’ permission on 13 sites to clean up debris left from the ice storm and he had to have them completed this week.

• Three road projects will be moving forward. They include Mission Road, Topsy Turnpike Road and Mt. Herman Road.

• The approval for a utility permit was granted to James Story for a water line.

• A tabled motion concerning the waiving of the competitive bidding process on the purchase of a fire truck for the Bernice Fire Department was dropped from the agenda as no action was taken this week. ADA Lelecas told the board he had not received any information regarding state statute from the department’s attorney Joe Hartley and advised the board to drop the item from the agenda until further notice.

The next meeting of the Delaware County Commissioners will be held on Mon., March 31 at 9 a.m. in the Commissioners Office of the Delaware County Courthouse.