Group Asks City Council Not To Appeal Black Creek TIF Ruling

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A group in support of citizen activist Helen Burns Sharp on Tuesday night asked the City Council not to appeal a ruling against $9 million in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) at Black Creek.

Eleanor Cooper said of the facts surrounding the TIF and the city's support of it, "This does not look good for the city."

Ms. Sharp filed suit challenging the City Industrial Development Board's approval of the TIF and received a favorable ruling from Chancellor Frank Brown.

Ms. Cooper said, "It is not too late to turn this around. Respect the judge's decision. Instruct the city attorney to do nothing further on this case and not to be involved in an appeal."

She asked that the city establish criteria for future TIFs to help avoid lawsuits. She said there should be a process for demonstrating that they are eligible projects under state law and that they benefit the public at large.

Garnet Chapin said TIFs can be an invaluable tool, "but they need to be used properly, and it needs to be done with transparency."

He added, "They need to be used wisely."

Chancellor Brown said the TIF for the Black Creek group that includes Gary Chazen and Doug Stein was produced in violation of the Open Meetings Act.

He also said "something is fundamentally wrong" with an attorney who was paid $50,000 by the group being the one who opined that it was an eligible project.

Attorney John Konvalinka said the purchasers of the $9 million bond issue were the same group developing the project at Black Creek in Lookout Valley. He also said that the developers stand to make money on interest on the bonds.

He said the road project will be constructed by a member of the group "who can charge what he wants."

The attorney said of the Black Creek TIF, "It's just us girls." 

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