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Tax Increment Finance Authority (TIFA)

The City of East Tawas Tax Increment Finance Authority is a public body created under the authority of Michigan Public Act 450.  It was established in 1984 as part of the project that resulted in the reconstruction of the downtown area, the exchange of property between the City of East Tawas and Tawas Bay Associates, and the construction of the Tawas Bay Holiday Inn.  Bonds were sold to finance the infrastructure project and were repaid by funds of the Authority.  The original TIFA plan was for a period of 20 years but the plan was amended in 2004 and resulted in the City of East Tawas TIFA 30-Year Strategic Plan.

The Authority was established to utilize tax increment financing to reestablish and maintain the vitality of the TIFA District which encompasses commercial and development areas of the City within the core downtown and the US-23 corridor.  With tax increment financing, the taxable value of the properties within the District the year the Authority was established becomes the base year taxable value.  Growth in the taxable value of the district is then “captured” and the revenue from that captured taxable value is available to the Authority to be used to pay for the projects as defined in the TIFA plan or to make bond payments on the bonds issued to finance projects.

Some of the approved uses of funds as defined in the plan include long-range planning for the district, land acquisition, building construction, and construction and maintenance of public facilities such as sidewalks, parking lots, streets, street lighting, and parks.

The Authority is governed by a seven member Board of Directors.  Members are appointed by the Mayor and City Council and serve staggered four-year terms.

Current board members are:

  • Allen Tubbs – TIFA Chair
  • Rebecca Buchanan
  • Steve Fountain
  • Kevin Jungquist
  • Jennifer Ladley
  • Michael Stonehouse
  • (vacancy)


US-23 Enhancement Project

This project runs along US-23, almost the entire length of the city. It will include lighting along the entire corridor, improved bike path and pedestrian access, improved access to businesses with necessary curbs and gutters, and improved landscaping.


State Street Parking Lot Improvement Project

Reconstruction of the State Street parking lot was completed just before Memorial Day 2012. This parking lot is the final portion of the $2.5 million Downtown Streetscape Improvement and Beautificaion Project, which is part of the East Tawas TIFA's 30-year Strategic Plan. In addition, this project is a fundamental component of the community's Cool Cities Blueprints for Michigan Downtowns.

This lot lies in the second block of the Central Business District (CBD) west of Newman Street and north of West Westover Street. It abuts the secondary entrances of 13 businesses including Newman Court Mall with 13 interior retail and professional business spaces. This lot serves both the District Library Administrative Offices and the City Library. It lies kitty-corner from the Northeast Michigan Regional Farm Market.

The USDA awarded the City of East Tawas $50,000 in a Rural Business Enterprise Grant to help fund this project.

The following improvements were made:

  • An updated sewer system
  • An updated storm drainage system
  • The addition of a new raised sidewalk running alongside the rear entrances of 13 businesses creating a safer pedestrian zone and improved ADA access
  • Redesigned lot to improve traffic flow and further increase safety for both motorists and pedestrians
  • Parking spaces to be widened a foot to 10 feet
  • New decorative LED street lights
  • Landscaping with trees, flowers, plantings to soften the urbanscape
  • Distinct metalscape artwork

Sawyer Street Parking Lot Improvement Project

In November 2010, the reconstruction and improvement of the Sawyer Street Parking Lot was successfully completed. This lot is located in the first block of the Downtown Business District west of Newman Street, which is the Downtown's main business artery. The USDA awarded the City of East Tawas $65,000 in a Rural Business Enterprise Grant to help fund this project.

The following improvements were made:

  • An updated storm drainage system
  • The addition of a new raised sidewalk running alongside the rear entrances of 11 businesses creating a safer pedestrian zone and improved ADA access
  • Additional parking spaces
  • New decorative street lighting
  • A pocket park with landscaping, benches and trash cans


During 2008-2009, the first two phases of the Downtown Streetscape Improvement and Beautification Project were completed. The project included:
  • Improved storm drain and sewer systems
  • New curbs and gutters
  • Paving
  • Decorative street lighting
  • Upgraded electrical system
  • Pedestrian-friendly sidewalks with up-to-date, ADA-compliant intersections
  • Masonry walls, decorative railings, and bike racks
  • Irrigation system
  • Landscaping with trees, floral beds, decorative flower pots, and hanging baskets
In addition, the Main Street parking lot underwent a major redesign with massive improvements and upgrades to the storm drain and sewer systems. A new raised sidewalk was constructed along the rear facades of businesses facing the parking lot which improved pedestrian safety and increased ADA access. Additional parking spaces were created. Conduit pipes were installed to accommodate future underground utilities and to allow businesses to connect directly to the City's storm drain system.

Wayfinding Signs Project

In 2007, TIFA commissioned a professionally designed set of more than 125 public signs to direct motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists alike to downtown East Tawas and the various attractions throughout the City and surrounding areas.  

In addition to repaying the bonds that were sold to finance the 1985 downtown project, the Authority has participated in funding numerous projects within the TIFA District. These projects include: 

Ongoing: Contributed to purchase of Christmas decorations, seasonal and Cool City banners for downtown and along US-23 corridor. 
2005:Main Street from East Bay Street to East Westover Street; widen street, added curb and gutter, installed new storm sewer and water line, and resurfaced the street. Purchased the former Community Building site to create what is now Harbor Park. 
2003:Purchased old laundry building in Main Street parking lot; razed building and created 20 new parking spaces. 
2002:East Bay Street from Main Street to the end of East Bay Street; curb and gutter on south side of street, resurfacing of street.
Sprinkler system installed in median between Bay Street and US-23. 
2001:Harbor area waterfront renovation: promenade, landscaping, fountain constructed; clock purchased; water treatment plant removed; new storm sewer installed. 
1996:State Street parking lot: acquired portion adjacent to Johnson Auto Supply. 
1995-96:West Bay Street from Sawyer Street to Wilkinson Street and Locke Street from West Bay Street to State Street: improved storm drainage system, roadway, curbs and gutters, sidewalks, added new water line and fire hydrants.
Church Street from West Bay Street to West Westover Street: improved drainage and sidewalk. Locke Street: new 6-inch water main from West Bay Street to West State Street.
1993:Sawyer Street parking lot resurfaced, new curb and gutter; landscaping; new storm drainage installed. 
1992:Parking lot improvements: parking lot adjacent to East Tawas Library. Installed storm drain; reshaped, blacktopped, striped, and landscaped lot. 
1991:Demolition of the old Fire Hall and gravel parking area; removal of old gas tanks. Bicycle/pedestrian pathway: Newman Street to Tawas Beach Road including lighting. Bicycle/pedestrian pathway: Tawas Beach Road from US-23 to city limits. 
1989-90:Bicycle/pedestrian pathway with lighting: west city limits to Newman Street with lightning. 

Cool Cities Blueprints for Michigan's Downtowns

In 2005, East Tawas became one of Michigan's Cool Cities. Governor Jennifer Granholm kicked off the Cool Cities Initiative in 2003 throughout the State as a strategy to revitalize communities, build community spirit, and retain and attract the jobs and people critical to the emerging economies of the 21st century. East Tawas received a $15,000 grant to have HyettPalma, a nationally-recognized consulting firm, create a downtown action plan for the City which resulted in the East Tawas Downtown Blueprint 2006. This designation and blueprint study gives East Tawas additional marketing tools and specific guidelines to promote revitalization efforts throughout downtown.

East Tawas Port-Of-Call Cruise Ship Feasibility Study

In 2008, the City of East Tawas was awarded a $35,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Coastal Management Program to research, develop, and publicize ways to enhance the port of East Tawas as a Great Lakes cruise ship destination.

The project team includes representatives from the City of East Tawas, Develop Iosco, Inc., Michigan Historical Center, Tawas Point State Park, and community activists throughout Iosco County.

The project has three main components: 

  1. Conduct a market feasibility study to assess the economic viability of developing and promoting East Tawas as a Great Lakes cruise ship port-of-call, as well as the viability of options to enhance East Tawas as a day-trip and vacation destination for recreational boaters. A key element is to profile and compile current East Tawas and Iosco County attractions, services, and amenities. The port-of-call concierge book will be completed by June 2010.
  2. Conduct and prepare a preliminary engineering and feasibility study to develop the existing East Tawas State Dock as a cruise ship berth; address the range of necessary infrastructure upgrades and additions; provide estimated costs and associated regulatory requirements.  Port of Call Feasibility Study Report.   East Tawas Harbor Final Engineering Report
  3. Prepare a guide, resource list, and self-assessment for Michigan port cities seeking to increase activity at their ports.
Affiliations with Port-of-Call Project:

Great Lakes Small Harbors Coalition

Michigan Port Collaborative 




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