Little Rock City Board gives handout of school money to private developer | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Little Rock City Board gives handout of school money to private developer

Posted By on Wed, Dec 18, 2013 at 7:01 AM

click to enlarge YOUR SCHOOL TAX DOLLARS AT WORK: A Bass Pro project  now will benefit from work paid for by school and other local property taxes.
  • YOUR SCHOOL TAX DOLLARS AT WORK: A Bass Pro project now will benefit from work paid for by school and other local property taxes.
As predicted here, the Little Rock City Board last night approved a tax increment finance bond issue supported by diversion of property tax dollars from schools and local government to help developer Tommy Hodges build infrastructure to serve the already-built Bass Pro Shops and the Gateway Town Center.

You'd have thought they'd have had the decency for a little discussion. None. This is the extensive and complicated deal approved without a single peep, according to the D-G account.

City Manager Bruce Moore could have explained what changed from when he told me the project would be built WITHOUT a property tax subsidy.

City directors could explain why they require other developers to pay their own road improvement costs.

City directors could — and ominously did not — say they don't intend to make a habit of stealing school property tax money to benefit private developers.

Cty directors did not say how they think the giveaway squares with the state constitutional prohibition against taking school tax money for any purpose other than that for which it is voted — schools.

The new development with increased property values that normally would produce additional revenues for local governments and schools will instead funnel much of that money into the pockets of the developer. It's a margin other private businesses would enjoy. It is nothing but a raid when the benefits come from a project already built and thus demonstrably not in need of this handout to succeed.

A consultant hired by developer Hodges has already said the developers have dramatically overstated the benefits of sales taxes from the new developments. But the consultant did find that the revenue should be sufficient to offset the income from 5 mills in property tax that the city and county are giving up, among others. Sales taxes don't benefit schools. The Little Rock School District will lose income from 9 mills on property tax on millions of dollars worth of new development. It will get no offset and no other tangible benefits from this subsidy.

Arkansas Community Organizations wrote a letter to the board objecting to the handout of school money from a district soon to give up a significant chunk of money in state desegregation aid. No one commented on their complaint either.

It is the way of the Little Rock City Board. Private business and the Chamber of Commerce will be served. The rest of you:  Meh. The easy disregard of the school district comes at a moment when the desegregation case is coming to an end, with few victors in sight. The Little Rock City Board played a pivotal role in segregating the schools through zoning and urban renewal decisions and through a ceding of city territory to a white flight suburban school district. It reaps a harvest of a deteriorating core city and again demonstrates its utter lack of concern for voices like members of the Community Organizations who live there.

In time — whether by court action or the inexorable march of demographics — the City Board will become democratic with ward representation. Then, maybe, silence won't greet voices who object to the persistent favoritism of private business, a pattern that hasn't exactly rained prosperity on the city so far. (Stagnant population and revenue growth as suburbs prosper, in part with taxpayer subsidies Little Rock business leaders supported, such as the overblown Hewlett Packard operation in Conway.)

The go-along to get-along posture of the Little Rock School District also should be noted. It should have had a representative present Tuesday night to object to the theft of its tax money. I suspect silence is part of a plan to win support for a coming tax millage necessary to build a middle school to serve upscale white western Little Rock. I doubt it will be tribute enough for the billionaires who continue to intently pursue strategies like multiple charter schools to wreck the good left in the state's largest school district.

Tags: , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (10)

Showing 1-10 of 10

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-10 of 10

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Police still withholding identification on three dead in Birchwood

    Police still have not release details about the apparent slaying Sunday of two children and suicide of the man who killed them on Birchwood Drive in West Little Rock. But the court record of a man who gave the address of the home where the dead were found indicates past episodes of domestic violence.
    • Aug 21, 2017
  • University of Texas removes Confederate statues

    Confederate statuary was removed overnight from a prominent spot on the University of Texas campus because they symbolize white supremacy and neo-Nazism, the university president said.
    • Aug 21, 2017
  • Eclipse day. Woodstock?

    I was amused by the excitement of a NASA scientist over today's eclipse, as reported by CNN.
    • Aug 21, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

  • Take yourself there: Mavis Staples coming to LR for Central High performance

    Gospel and R&B singer and civil rights activist Mavis Staples, who has been inspiring fans with gospel-inflected freedom songs like "I'll Take You There" and "March Up Freedom's Highway" and the poignant "Oh What a Feeling" will come to Little Rock for the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the desegregation of Central High.
  • Klan's president

    Everything that Donald Trump does — make that everything that he says — is calculated to thrill his lustiest disciples. But he is discovering that what was brilliant for a politician is a miscalculation for a president, because it deepens the chasm between him and most Americans.
  • On Charlottesville

    Watching the Charlottesville spectacle from halfway across the country, I confess that my first instinct was to raillery. Vanilla ISIS, somebody called this mob of would-be Nazis. A parade of love-deprived nerds marching bravely out of their parents' basements carrying tiki torches from Home Depot.
  • Lynchings hidden in the history of the Hot Springs Confederate monument

    Hot Springs twice erupted into the kind of violence that has its roots in the issues left unresolved by the Civil War, and both times, it happened right where that monument to Confederate soldiers stands today.

Most Viewed

  • Eclipse day. Woodstock?

    I was amused by the excitement of a NASA scientist over today's eclipse, as reported by CNN.
  • Open line and Civil War update

    More Confederacy defenders were on hand in Bentonville against imagined threats to a one of hte Confederate statues put up long after the Civil War to spin a narrative about the noble Lost Cause.
  • University of Texas removes Confederate statues

    Confederate statuary was removed overnight from a prominent spot on the University of Texas campus because they symbolize white supremacy and neo-Nazism, the university president said.
  • Three dead in WLR

    Three dead in suspected double murder-suicide in West Little Rock.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: University of Texas removes Confederate statues

    • Pygface: When you start with spineless a$$a as Governor, we are not likely to see…

    • on August 21, 2017
  • Re: Eclipse day. Woodstock?

    • Who knows, the eclipse today might even overshadow Confederate statues in the 24-hour news cycle.

    • on August 21, 2017
  • Re: Eclipse day. Woodstock?

    • Jake: Great musical choices! Wide range of decades and genres. Very cool!

    • on August 21, 2017

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation