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Monday, May 09, 2016

Janesville Downtown TIF District Won't Boost Property Value Much. But It Will Confiscate It.

Apparently, some concerned Janesville residents are asking themselves why the city's manager and council are pushing a new TIF District to divert substantial tax revenue for the next 27 years away from budget obligations at a time when the manager warned that the next budget session will begin with a $800K deficit and expects to double borrowing in 2016, among other revenue problems.

At least some critics exist according to a recent Janesville Gazette editorial. But as usual, outside of this independent citizen blog, I have not personally seen much push back from area residents about this misguided proposal. But then again, establishment hustlers are well organized and funded and know how to isolate critics. So I'm used to it.

Anyways, the TIF District proposed for downtown Janesville is being promoted as an "incentive," or as the impetus for downtown growth when in reality, it is merely the legal device being hurriedly approved for the capture of future assessed taxable value (revenue) from downtown growth to be diverted away from the General Fund.

They feel the need to get this locked in quickly for two reasons. The first is the longer they let it go, the higher the expected frozen assessed value baseline will be. They know downtown assessed values are rising as we speak and the bubble could burst at any time. That means if the proposal stalls and is later approved, the difference in assessed value won't produce the $40M-plus they expect to confiscate.

The second reason is since downtown property owners already know higher assessed values are likely on the way as it stands, they figure why bother raising taxes and fees on themselves with a BID (IF revitalization was the real goal), when a TIF will provide them some sense of kickback value on their higher taxes.

Remember, downtown business owners who rightly rejected an earlier BID are the same business owners who are suddenly for this TIF District. They know the growth is already there or on the way, they only need a legal device to confiscate the revenue. The TIF District tool fills that need.

JG Editorial Excerpt:
Janesville's downtown TIF District could boost property values by nearly $100 million in the next two decades, officials estimate.


At the current rate of inflation including the current mix of increased downtown business activity and other changing conditions, downtown property value will increase by $100 million over the next two decades WITHOUT the proposed TIF District. Again, the whole point of the proposed TIF District is the capture of this growth in tax dollars once destined for city General Fund obligations, to instead be diverted to fund the donor-class business lobby (Forward Janesville) ARISE project.

They know there's no need for a TIF District to spur growth and raise property assessed values. Again, their entire scheme is strictly meant to capture top growth revenue - not grow it, and certainly not to help pay for the city's current operational expenses. Sadly, downtown property owners supporting this proposal now come off looking selfish and detached toward current at-large Janesville needs.

JG Excerpt:
“Very little remains for us to say about this,” commission member Edward Madere said after the public hearing closed. The proposal now heads to the city council, which likely will vote on it at its May 23 meeting.

There is no question the proposal to fund Forward Janesville priorities already has the Forward Janesville appointed city manager's endorsement. All that awaits is a quick ramming session and rubber stamp by the Forward Janesville owned city council.

And that folks, is how easy it is for wealthy developers, political donor-class chamber clubs and city hall insiders to leverage government in the confiscation of millions of dollars from local tax treasuries for their private-for-profit projects and properties without ever bringing the question directly to taxpayers. While the operational funding of local representative government, charged with constitutional powers of taxation but now leveraged against the people, must beg for replacement dollars with perpetual referendums to pay the bills.

How backwards and upside-down bizarre is that?

Right now, Janesville taxpayers are being guilt-tripped by the newspaper and others to support a very bad proposal developed by scheming establishment players. The downtown TIF District is simply not necessary nor the impetus for downtown revitalization, but it will be absolutely necessary if the confiscation of tax revenue is the goal.

Recent surveys showed public safety as the top funding priority of residents. But perhaps the most glaring insult to common sense through all this is the fact the city is facing a large deficit with more borrowing and cuts expected in state shared revenue.

Stay tuned here for more independent analysis on this disturbing tax-jacking proposal as it is rammed through the city council.

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