TIF concerns: Part II

Published 7:00 am Friday, August 21, 2015

I am a citizen of the city of Picayune and I would like to talk about an recently approved TIF plan that will involve the use of additional tax funds. The following is a continuation from last week’s part I.

During the City Council meeting on July 7th, another landowner who has 10 acres by this development in question spoke to the council. Now if he wants the approval of county and city to have these same improvements performed to his property, shouldn’t a TIF be granted to him also? If it is now a right to have taxpayers develop personal property for individual profit, where does it stop?

TIF is a tool created for a city or community to redevelop blighted areas; not for areas where development would happen anyway, like it is in this case. Picayune has not designated this area as “blighted”, which is normally essential for the implementation of a TIF. As a matter of fact, this area is the total opposite, and all the documents that I have read that were created on, for, or about TIFs specifically stress that they are absolutely designed only for areas of difficult economic straits. There is already the new Highland Community Hospital in this existing commercial development. Additionally, a Walmart is now moving in across from the hospital as part of this plan. Therefore these other lots will definitely develop anyway. The developer / landowner knows this and is now using the taxpayers to continue to develop his personal property for him. California (the State that developed the TIF) had to pass legislation to stop this exact type of abuse and now has discontinued the use of TIFs altogether. Please also note that there is already a 4-lane boulevard going through his development that has been partially (approximately 50 percent) paid for by the taxpayers.

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I also understand that TIFs are used for infrastructure improvements for businesses like Walmart or other corporations that will immediately bring taxes and jobs to the community; so it is directly beneficial in using a TIF to ensure this corporation’s development. However, this usually only consists of the addition of traffic lights and minor road construction.

Another issue that I don’t believe has been stressed to the public is the taxes in this new TIF area. What I understand is that TIF encloses this area in a “tax blanket.” Most taxes produced in this area go directly into paying off the money used to develop the infrastructure. This means that no taxes produced in this area go to paying the additional fire, police, maintenance, etc. that will be needed.

I would urge everyone to look up and investigate “Tax Increment Financing” and find out exactly what it was designed for and the implications of abusing this tool. Wikipedia (and almost every other report on TIFs) state: “Although generally sold to legislatures as a tool to redevelop blighted areas, some districts are drawn up where development would happen anyway, such as ideal development areas at the edges of cities. California has passed legislation designed to curb this abuse.” Does this sound familiar?

Ray Snapp