Right on, Mr. James Mapp - And Response (4)

Friday, August 1, 2014

How can our local governments, city and county,  gift a group of Black Creek Golf Club developers our public bond issue leverage? It is just maddening.  Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) was created as development incentive for blighted areas.  Our local government gifted $9 million for a residential subdivisions for a private golf club community.  Are you kidding me?

We have monumental blight in the city of Chattanooga, monumental, with infrastructure decaying.  Shame on every city and county elected official that voted to send $9 million plus interest away from the inner city to the golf course community with half a million dollar homes. 

What is more disturbing is that the brokers of the Black Creek bond issue all hold special appointments on city boards.  It is interesting to be an appointed (or anointed in this case) city board member, and lobby for deals that fill your own bank account.  The Black Creek, “just us girls,” needed our tax dollars to fund their services for 20 years.

TIF is nothing more than corporate welfare making the poor in Chattanooga poorer.  Giving our tax dollars to corporation is a trickle-up economic false notion conveyed by the Chamber of Commerce, yahoos downtown that receive $1.2 million a year in public assistance for the city and county property taxes.  That would make the Chamber of Commerce ($1.2 million), and Black Creek TIF ($9 million) the largest welfare recipients in Chattanooga.

 It is good news that Mr. James Mapp and the NAACP see that corporate welfare only benefits those that don’t need the public resources in the first place. Unless of course, there is public benefit found in a golf course.  

April Eidson

* * *

Many of the opponents of the TIF bond at Black Creek (like the opinion articulated by the letter from April Eidson on 8-1-14) seem to be unable to get past the "class warfare rhetoric" rather than look at the results that progressive long-term investments like the proposed TIF will bring to the city.  By helping spur the development of potentially some of the most lucrative property in Chattanooga, the city is investing in a tremendous new market for the collection of property tax.  The current property tax rate is about as progressive of a tax that we have.  It cost the city no more to service a home that accessed at a low value, than it does a home that is accessed at high value, but the return on the property tax investment is exponentially higher, and creates revenue for the city to do with it whatever they wish.  The old a term, you have to spend a dollar to make a dollar could not ring truer here.  I am really glad that the city did not listen to the tired old arguments from Ms. Eidson when it was deciding to invest down by the Riverfront.  We could be still be called in the words of Walter Cronkite "Americas dirtiest city."  The TIF is a very forward reaching concept  that will benefit the entire city for generations to come.
 
John Clark 
Chattanooga

* * *

Could the author of the response to the opinion letter possibly be the John Clark who is himself the beneficiary of a huge PILOT? A John Clark is the president of Walnut Commons LLC. This company recently developed a large apartment complex near the Riverfront on Walnut Street at Aquarium Way.
 
That  LLC has a 35-year lease on on property valued at over $1 million that is owned by the tax-exempt Chattanooga Downtown Redevelopment Corporation. Sweet.
 
When that company originally proposed their apartment complex, they represented that they would build a parking garage. Presumably that was part of the public purpose they used in their request for the PILOT. It would have met their parking needs for tenants and visitors and would have provided some spaces for the public to lease. Apparently the company decided not to build the garage but they still got an exemption from property taxes until 2021 and pay a prorated share until 2025. The rents they charge  are among the highest in the city, with some at or over $1,300. The "public purpose " justifying the tax exemption doesn't appear to relate to their leasing to low and moderate income, elderly or handicapped.
 
Could someone explain why the homeowners of the neighboring townhomes and condominiums pay almost $1 million per year in city and county property taxes and Walnut Commons is exempt? When they have police and fire calls for service, property taxes from owners throughout the city pay for their services.
 
Sounds like the Tiffers and the Pilots stick together. They are the ones with the tired old arguments. They seem to have an entitlement mentality.

Jeff Perlaky

* * *

No, Mr. Perlaky, this is the John Clark that you sued last year for slander, and for the record was dismissed from court.

I think it prudent that you get your John Clarks straight as well as your facts in order about TIF bonds.
 
John Clark
Wildrose Lane

* * *

This is getting bizarre. We have folks comparing an upscale subdivision on a mountain, Black Creek Mountain, owned by a multi-billion-dollar hedge fund, York Capital, to the city-owned riverfront now. Give me a break.

 A little info, a little truth, a few facts for those that want to have dreams of grandeur at the taxpayers' expense. 

On July 8, 2009, before York Capital bought the majority of Black Creek, Doug Stein went before the planning commission and said the road would cost over $1 million. Here is a quote from the Chattanoogan.com from that very meeting, "Mr. Stein said his group, which includes investor Gary Chazen, plans to spend over $1 million rebuilding the road over a less curvy route and paving the new road."

 One week later, I said one week later,  on July 15, 2009 here is a quote from the Chattanoogan.com

"A group led by Doug Stein and Gary Chazen hope to build hundreds of homes atop the now-wild mountain, but must first improve the road. Attorney Bill Horton said the group plans to spend over $2 million rebuilding the road along a new route."

It was not very long after this that the price went to $9 million, however, the taxpayers would be financing the road instead through Tax Incremental Financing, or a TIF, instead of the private developers. Why the increase when the taxpayers are involved?

 There is a difference between private developments and municipal developments and a good example of both are Black Creek Mountain, a private development, and the riverfront, a city-owned development. Oh, by the way, the city of Chattanooga taxpayers have been on the hook for about $10,000,000 for just the repairs to the riverfront since it was completed in 2005. That is an average of over $2,000,000 a year for just repairs to the faulty and terrible construction of the area, not including all the others costs associated. That is just below the total  cost of keeping the city streets paved per year. From the Chattanoogan.com, June 10, 2014, "The budget currently includes $2,588,000 for paving."

  You will have those that want to prosper from the taxpayers' hard-earned money find every excuse in the world why they deserve that money. However, let those with millions or billions of dollars, like York Capital, fund their own ventures in order to prosper themselves. It has nothing to do with class warfare, it is a matter of fairness and legality concerning your tax money. Chancellor Brown ruled the TIF was illegal, period. The craving and desire for your tax money by those wanting to separate you from it will never end, so everyone be diligent and keep an eye on your wallet.

Joe Blevins


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