Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Wasteland of Tax Dollars
The scam to get the City of Fayetteville to create a Tax Increment Finance District should not be soon forgotten, and the 2010 City Budget provides a reminder of the fleecing the taxpayers are still taking. We were told that spending $3.7 million in TIF bond funds to acquire property and demolish the Mountain Inn then selling the land to developers for a song was a great idea. They promised to build a big $24 million hotel and parking deck, and, despite pleas for caution from local citizens, former city officials pushed it on the longshot dream that increased property taxes would pay off the bonds.
It didn't work out that way. The City did its part, taking on millions in debt and handing over the deed to the developers. Because the contract signed by the City didn't require the developers to actually build anything, we now have an eyesore pay parking lot instead of a luxury hotel. The revenue from the parking fees goes to the developers, because they own the land. All of that new property tax revenue that we were told would be generated to pay off the bonds? That didn't happen either.
Part of the budget difficulties faced by the City today is a direct result of this financial folly. For 2009, the expenses of the TIF bond service exceed income by more than $5,700. For next year, the city's taxpayers are looking eating another loss on the projected deficit of $5,780 in the TIF Bond Fund (2010 Proposed Budget, p. 72).
The bitter irony that compounds the injury is that the vacant Mountain Inn generated $5,600 per year in tax revenue, and John Nock gets published as a deadbeat because he didn't pay his personal or real property taxes. And it is not just the money. Drive the newly completed College Avenue from Maple to Rock, and see the only section that has no trees, sidewalks, or decorative street lights.