I got through to Mayor Becker today and had an interesting conversation. I wanted to know how much the uptown rehab project will cost. The project is part of a larger initiative intended to spur development by enticing artists to the area. The mayor did not have the info that I sought- he will by next week- but he assured me that the project will lose money.
It is quite apparent that I have a different philosophy on development than does the mayor. The mayor obviously believes that government must provide the stimulus to encourage development. And while I have no doubt that government stimulus can stimulate growth, I suspect that the flip side is that this stimulus, taken from taxing profitable economic activity, will ultimately reduce the amount of taxable activity. It will do more harm than good, only the good will be visible while the bad will be less immediately apparent.
A property on Martin Luther King Drive has been purchased by the city. It will soon be demolished and cleared for redevelopment. The city has created a TIF district for this property only. A microTIF, if you will. I advanced this idea some time ago- not that I am taking credit for this particular TIF- I oppose the idea. But the idea of stimulating development among ANY citizen is attractive to me. Rather than providing money to John Doe to fix his roof, I suggested that there should be some fixed period of time wherein the improvements would not be taxed. The mayor assures me that this would be unconstitutional and I will assume that he is correct. So the system is rigged in favor of big developers and against John Doe. A big developer can get government money to reduce the cost of his project while it would be unconstitutional to simply defer tax increases to John Doe. Is this fair? I think we should change the constitution. I will get right on that.