Wednesday, September 19, 2007

More TIF Talk

How tax districts help

"[Kelty's] description that Mayor Graham Richard has used districts as the equivalent of a “slush fund” is an outrageously over-the-top, deceptive term apparently intended to suggest the administration is somehow corrupt.

Much of Kelty’s attack on Tax Increment Financing districts concerned only a single district and appeared to be yet another way to attack Harrison Square – a worthy downtown development project he has already criticized repeatedly."

"Q. Where does the revenue go?

A. Like all property tax revenues: into accounts overseen by the county auditor. City officials then spend the money for public works improvements – such as streets, sidewalks and sewers – within the district. Separate Baer Field Airport and Centennial Industrial Park TIFs, for example, are helping pay for the Ardmore Avenue extension. A Southtown Centre TIF is helping pay for site development and the new public safety academy at the former Southtown Mall site. In the case of Harrison Square, TIF money will help pay for a baseball stadium and parking garage."

"Q. Does that result in less money going to the city’s general fund, schools and other uses?

A. No. Kelty suggested as much, saying, “We don’t have enough money to refurbish our schools, but we have enough money to build a duplicate baseball stadium.” Actually, taxpayers could have chosen to provide the money to refurbish Fort Wayne Community Schools and declined."

"Q. So what’s with the “slush fund” description?

A. Some Harrison Square opponents have tried to create an aura of supersecret, unseemly government behavior in expanding the Jefferson Pointe TIF district and using its revenues for Harrison Square. Kelty’s description feeds the doubt.

In fact, the City Council must vote to create a TIF district. Money from the district goes into a separate account. The State Board of Accounts meticulously reviews how the money is spent.

Also keep in mind that nearly all of the key votes for Harrison Square, specifically votes about expanding the Jefferson Pointe TIF district, were reported both in advance of the votes and after the votes occurred. The decisions were hardly secret. Kelty and other Harrison Square opponents may not like the decisions, but they had opportunities to tell officials their opinions before the votes were taken."


John B. Kalb said...

Please see my rebuttal to Warners editorial at AWB. John B. Kalb