Missoula’s Urban Renewal District III Tax Increment Financing (T.I.F.) District has grown over the years and now includes Southgate Mall and a pedestrian bridge over Reserve Street. Missoula County Fairgrounds Director Emily Bentley believes it is time for that district to grow again.

"The fairgrounds is now excluded from URD III, which is the Urban Renewal T.I.F. district in midtown and we would like to be included in the T.I.F. District. We are embarking on a major redevelopment here at the fairgrounds and the county has allocated money to do that, we would like the city and the Missoula Redevelopment Agency to be a partner."

If the fairgrounds were put into the district, it would allow revenue from area property tax growth to go towards redeveloping the fairgrounds. Bentley says this would also increase the tax value of nearby properties.

"The project, which is quadrupling the amount of open space and adding 6,000 feet of trail connections and taking down the chain-link fence will clearly raise the taxable values in the area and improve the adjacent properties and midtown in general," Bentley said. "So we are asking the city council to include the fairground in the T.I.F. District and put some skin in the game in the project."

Bentley says the sunset of the tax increment financing district would not be extended with this plan. The fairgrounds are already county space and don’t generate tax revenue, so any hope of the addition financially paying off for local taxpayers would have to come from tax base growth in areas near the fairgrounds.