Tuesday, September 30, 2008

City Fathers Cut Another Sweet Deal

We see in the RC Weekly News that yet another TIF ("Taxing Is Free" for the well-connected of Rapid City) is being given away to a group building a soccer complex off Elk Vale Road.
("TIF Boundary Created for Soccer Complex", RCWN, 9/30/08)

THREE CHEERS to Rapid City Council member Ron Weifenbach for asking the questions that need to be asked:

“The value of the land is going up and they want to capture the increment but no one can answer how much the increment is. We should know how much it is before creating the boundary,” Weifenbach said. “Another underlying issue is I don’t understand why a non-profit organization wants a TIF that does not directly help the soccer complex.”

I'll tell you why, the land was donated in the first place as part of the typical Rapid City deal-making.

We don't plan. We make deals.

Weifenbach did stress that he is a huge supporter of youth sports and soccer, but pointed out the complex already received $3.8 million from the city in 2012 money. He said he feels it may have more to do with Estes developing land around the complex. “If that is the case, it should be put on the table,” Weifenbach said.

Look, I'm not saying Estes is a bad guy, he has been on the board of the RC Regional Hospital Foundation and does a lot of good stuff the city father-types should be doing.

BUT... We way over-use TIFs in this town. But worse, we MIS-use them in favor of those that have the inside track (or get their ear, in the case of Cabela's), with the deals themselves more important than the long-term effects on our overall quality of life. We don't believe in even local control of development really, unless it's local support of development.

If we want the best economic development, in my humble opinion we should be working harder with TIFs and other tools to make this town a better place for families and young people to live, by promoting real land use planning to improve our quality of life.

Instead most of these projects seem to promote sprawl by giving a break to development that favors low-wage employers (Wal Mart, Cabela's, mini-malls) on the edge of town. Short term gain, with long-term cost. (Which, by the way is what overusing TIFs gives us fiscally--we carry the cost for years!)

Ths city council needs some vision. Their approach is seems soooo 1970's.

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