Work continues in NLR | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Work continues in NLR

Posted By on Tue, Dec 16, 2008 at 2:13 PM

Contrary to what I was told yesterday by a representative of the county assessor's office -- and probably it's only because minds changed -- Mayor Pat Hays is moving ahead with a plan to combine three downtown tax increment finance districts to produce sufficient tax revenues to build a parking deck and other improvements for a proposed hotel at Maple and Broadway.

Still stinks to high heaven.

There have been some changes in the plan as originally floated, but I can't get anyone at NLR City Hall on the phone yet to answer clarifying questions.

The main change is that the city is expanding the redevelopment district being formed to benefit the old Rye Furniture property at Maple and Broadway. I'm guessing, but only guessing, that it will expand sufficiently to touch the previously created Argenta and Enclave-area redevelopment districts. These are to be combined to create one downtown TIF district that can divert school property taxes -- about 16 mills -- to Mayor Hays' desired infrastructure projects.

The original Hays combination plan anticipated combining non-contiguous districts. State law says land in TIF districts must be contiguous. Though the law allows combinations, I don't think it nullifies the requirement that land be contiguous. He also proposed taking tax revenue from a non-contiguous district to build an improvement in another one, though the Constitution says redevelopment district money may only be used for projects WITHIN the districts.

I'm guessing -- but until I see the maps I can't be sure -- that changes have been made to deal with these problems. If the changes DON'T address these problems, a lawsuit is likely.

The plan to put this in effect will be voted on next week.

One other smaller point: I'm not exactly clear how the city can say that resolutions filed today were advertised more than a week ago since they didn't exist in this form then, but I haven't yet been able to raise City Attorney Jason Carter on this and other questions.

Legal or not, Mayor Hays' plan to take school taxes from the completed Enclave apartments, a $30 milliion project -- as if it's a beneficiary of a TIF district -- is a reprehensible abuse of the TIF law. It's exactly the sort of abuse I predicted when Dustin McDaniel was carrying this legislative TIF garbage for Bruce Burrow, another fat cat Hays hopes to favor with school tax handouts.

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