MLK Boulevard TIF Is A Public Scam From People You Should be Able To Trust

Tuesday, February 20, 2018
TIFs (Tax Incremental Financing) were created to allow cities to do projects they cannot afford.  A TIF project also allows various private construction costs to be subsidized by sequestered future property taxes that normally would go into the general fund for running a city. It’s credit card spending with a new fancy name. Politicians love it because it sounds good, but they clearly don’t understand it, because they see a TIF as money from nothing with few down sides.
 

How good does this sound? While the taxes for TIF designated land are saved for a special project, regular taxpayers pay for routine city services incurred by the property having taxes diverted for years (and years) to pay to build the special TIF project. If you are confused by this nonsense, join the club. Most scams work because they sound great and have great deceptive marketing.

You might ask yourself, who could create a PR scam like this? I am fibbing a little bit to call it a scam, because technically if the state Senate and House of Representatives pass a poorly written state law making such treachery legal, it is not a common scam. It’s the legal scam we all know as bad government on parade. The original intent was to fight city blight, but it’s being used to line the pockets of private developers and investors for everything but blight.

What is this latest proposed downtown TIF project? City officials whine out loud that it’s a street remodel that has languished undone for 20 years. Be honest. How many of you taxpayers lay awake at night dreaming about getting another remodeled piece of real estate downtown leading to a bike trail? You can dress this TIF up, put lipstick on it and accessorize it with a silk purse, but it remains a project no sane group of adult citizens has requested.

Property taxes were raised recently. The argument was city officials needed us to pay them more money so they could care for us. So, taxpayers are now paying more for the same terrible roads, a high murder rate and under-funded fire and police pension plans. Since our basic needs still continue underfunded and unmet, why would now be the perfect time for the City Council to approve a multi-million-dollar project to facilitate another downtown Chattanooga bike trail and sequester years of future taxes (totaling millions of dollars) to subsidize private developers and investors? It’s a run-on sentence that begs for an answer. How much public charity can taxpayers afford and why are our state representatives allowing bizarre TIFs to continue unchecked?

Beware anytime you hear these words...This is a great city investment that will bring in future tax revenue when the project is complete. Let us not forget the last Chattanooga TIF hatched between city officials, developers and hedge fund investors. The city borrowed millions to pay developers to build a new dead end road (plus infrastructure) to service a “yet to be built” private luxury housing development. That pristine TIF land contained no blight. That shell game had city officials issuing bonds that could only be bought by hedge fund owners. Some of the hedge fund folks were also investors in the proposed development. The deal was so rotten it resulted in (among other things) a lawsuit against the city, which the city rightfully lost. Why do politicians enjoy playing games near red hot stoves? Answer: because only taxpayers get burned when they do.

Take time to read other TIF articles. There are especially informative ones written by Helen Burns Sharp. On this TIF, Ms. Helen Sharp is once again trying to save taxpayers from being pushed headfirst into another shallow concrete pool. This woman needs our undying support and thanks.

Pay attention taxpayers. Watch for the officials who vote to approve this new TIF, so you will know who to thank for the next city tax increase. 

Deborah Scott


Time To Address School Culture And Chronic Behavior Problems

School culture can have a variety of descriptors, that are not universally identified. In many ways it is similar to the characterization of pornography by Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart: “I know it when I see it” (Jacobellis v. Ohio, 1964). School culture is the set of core values that shape patterns of behavior, attitudes and expectations in a school. For educators it ... (click for more)

EPB Is Wrong To Increase Rates - And Response

Recently EPB has decided to raise rates by up to $8 per month. They claim that they are losing money on the video side because the cut the cord campaign. It's funny that EPB wants to have 100,000 subscribers by doing this. Comcast is going to raise their rates and EPB is doing it as well. They don't get it since by raising rates then they will ensure more people will cut the ... (click for more)

City Council Considering Possible Curbs On Steep Slope, Flood Plain Development

The City Council, which is considering possible curbs on steep slope and flood plain development, heard a presentation on the topic from the Regional Planning Agency staff on Tuesday. Councilman Darrin Ledford said a public hearing will come next. He said the council hears frequent criticism of development on steep hillsides and lowlands, "and I expect a great turnout for the ... (click for more)

Judge Denies New Trial For Unjolee Moore In 2010 Murder

Criminal Court Judge Don Poole has denied a new trial for a man convicted of a 2010 murder. Unjolee Moore, at a recent hearing, claimed that he made a confession after being beaten by a detective and held for over 13 hours while handcuffed behind his back. He a lso said he had ineffective assistance of counsel. His current lawyer, Daniel Murphy, said he was able to obtain ... (click for more)

McCallie Golf Team Wins Region Title

The McCallie golf team claimed the Region title Monday , winning the TSSAA Division II-AA East/Middle Region tournament by 10 strokes over the nearest competitor. The Blue Tornado carded a 286 team total with three players carding scores among the top six scores. The top four teams in the competition qualify for the upcoming TSSAA Division II State Tournament ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Lookouts And Cincinnati Reds Announce Two-Year Player Development Agreement

The Chattanooga Lookouts today announced that the organization has signed a two-year player development contract with the Cincinnati Reds.   The Reds have a long and storied history in Chattanooga that includes winning a Southern League Title in 1988.  The two teams previously had a 21-year affiliation spanning from 1988-2008.  “The Reds are thrilled ... (click for more)