Saturday, June 27, 2015

Blame It On The TIF

Who is more important to the City of Fort Worth, citizens or private developers? 

And the answer is.....the private developer.....and it came straight from the mouth of a city staffer. 

At our neighborhood meeting the other night (see blog City of Fort Worth....You Have Failed The East Side), a
neighbor asked if perhaps the City could finish one project before starting another.  Isn't this what our parents tried to instill in us as children? 
The city staffer's response was no. His reason?  He said developer Ken Newell was anxious to get his project started.  
You could hear the collective gasps of disbelief at what we had just heard and, in what's now considered true form for the formidable folks of the east side, a woman in the group sure did ask if the needs of the private developer were more important to the City than those of the citizens. No one from the City answered her question.  The non-response was our answer.  

Developer Ken Newell did respond. He told us the City would never have the money to make the necessary improvements in our area. (How did he know that?) Mr. Newell said he had been trying to get financing for the project for a long time and now he had it and was ready to proceed. He told us there was a public safety issue with Trinity Blvd and then repeated, right in front of FW Assistant City Manager Fernando Costa and Councilwoman Gyna Bivens, that the City of Fort Worth didn't have the money to take care of it. Neither seemed to take offense though. 
We're in pretty bad shape if the City knows an area is a public safety issue and doesn't have the money to keep their citizens safe!  

A handsome gentleman from Lakes of River Trails East then asked Mr. Newell who was going to pay him for doing the project and ventured a guess Mr. Newell wasn't going to do it for free. 

Mr. Newell explained that in 2011 he went to the City and reported our area's growth and tax revenues. Mr. Newell told the City he had a plan to improve our area.  He said he would do the project and front the cost, at his risk. Mr. Newell's cost? $10 million. 

Why would Mr. Newell take a $10 million risk?  He has 62 million reasons!

Mr. Newell's said his presentation to the City in 2011 resulted in the creation of a $62 million TIF.

What's a TIF?

TIF stands for Tax Increment Financing. It's a public financing method which uses the increase in property tax revenue that new development would cause to finance the costs of new development.  

Not much of a risk for Mr.'s a pretty sweet deal for him and the City.  Not so much for us, we'll pay more property taxes in order to finance Mr. Newell's business.  

NOW, we know why the City of Fort Worth places the needs of the private developer above those of the citizens.....the money, of course!  

I don't really understand all the ins and outs of TIFs, but I know I'm not too thrilled about the one in our neighborhoods. I think our side of town definitely needs a sit-down restaurant or two, but other than that I think it's great just the way it is (once the roads and bridges and flooding are fixed that is).  I think most of us feel that way....that's why we bought our homes here.  

I'm attaching a link to this TIF 14: Trinity Lakes.  Please take a look at it so you know what Mr. Newell has planned for our neighborhoods.  Please note the general TIF description says nothing about all of the houses and duplexes Mr. Newell plans to develop off Precinct Line Rd.  

So, the next time you find yourself still sitting at the light after several cycles or trying to get out of your street onto the main road or creeping towards the 3-way stop on Randol Mill because there was an accident on 820 and everyone is using Randol Mill and Precinct Line as a cut-through, imagine what it will be like with even more houses and now duplexes in our neighborhoods.  

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