Now here's the problem, the city is facing a tremendous amount of debt. The local school board is trying to raise our property taxes by a half-BILLION dollars. As these government expenditures continue to rise SOMEBODY has to pay for them. Unfortunately the properties inside these special tax districts won't contribute to the rising costs of city/county/school government. That means that everyone else has to continue to pay a larger share because the city is essentially removing more and more property from the tax paying population.I also spoke against the continual expansion of the TIF at the city council's public hearing on Harrison Square - video of that speech can be found here.
I think the more people come to understand what the TIF district actually is, the more hesitant they will be to support it. I'd like to address one particular point in today's article. Karen Goldner, 2nd District Council candidate and reader of this blog, was interviewed for the story:
People can’t just look at the TIF numbers in a vacuum, said Karen Goldner of the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission. It may be easy to say without TIFs, people would see a 3 percent reduction in property taxes, but the issue is far more complicated
I certainly agree with Karen that it's a complicated issue. One of the complications is that you cannot just take the amount of property found in TIF districts (3% in Fort Wayne not including Harrison Square) and claim that property taxes are only affected by that amount. The reason is that these TIF districts are using a disproportional amount of services.
Just as an example, at places like Jefferson Pointe and Harrison Square there will need to be more police than your typical neighborhood due to the large crowds of people. These are resources that are being pulled away from the general taxpaying population. So one of two things must happen, either the taxpayers get less resources or they pay more for the same amount of resources. Note that this extra cost is above and beyond what is lost in property taxes alone.
I'm glad the community is now going to have this debate. Just because you CAN use the TIF district to pay for a pet project doesn't make it a wise choice. To be fair, I think that using the TIF for Harrison Square is more reasonable than using it for Jefferson Pointe. But either way I think we should stop the practice and let these current projects be the catalysts we were promised they would be...