Argenta's New Year's Eve countdown | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Argenta's New Year's Eve countdown

Posted By on Wed, Dec 31, 2008 at 7:47 AM

I wish I could link you to Jake Sandlin's detailed story in the Democrat-Gazette today about NLR Mayor Pat Hays' midnight school tax grab -- his plan to run a grievously flawed Tax Increment Finance plan through the City Council before it turns into a rotten pumpkin at the dawning of the New Year tonight.

Suffice it to say: As we've written before, the plan is shot through with problems. They include wildly hyped economic benefits (though the mayor did respond to our suggestion that the job creation number was inflated by reducing it by a third, though his estimate still includes some utterly fictional jobs at "restaurants and store"). All the statutory procedures for public notice and review by the state's economic development agency haven't been followed. The NLR School Board still opposes the raid on tax revenues. A neighboring hotel owner doesn't sound happy about the public paying for parking facilities for a competitor that he had to pay with private dollars. Attorneys still work to see if Hays can make even a shred of a colorable claim for the gerrymandered district he proposes to annex newly developed property into a new district with a hotel site. This is the only way he can claim tax revenues from projects completed without any TIF assistance.

A cautious leader with an acute brain would not push forward with this misbegotten scheme. That's not an accurate definition of NLR's maximum boss. A lawsuit is sure to follow if Hays persists.


Just a few of the problems cited in the D-G today:

The economic development commission’s concerns included: A lack of a complete economic analysis; how an estimated 350 new jobs would be created; the lack of a bond repayment schedule; absence of listing the annual debt service on $3.5 million in redevelopment bonds and a discrepancy in the increment amount available based on a disputed millage amount.

The revised project plan reduces the number of jobs estimated to be created by the completed project from approximately 350 jobs, “exclusive” of construction jobs, to 220 fulland part-time positions at the hotel, conference center, restaurants and stores, when the maximum numbers projected are used.

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