Thursday, August 12, 2010

TIF Review Board: Edgewater, James Madison Park, blight, etc.

OK, I'm going to pull a Brenda and talk about a public meeting. The following may be a bit disjointed, but I don't have time and patience to straighten it out.

First a question: How is TIF going to make landlords maintain their property?

Bridget Maniaci is arguing that including a number of neighborhoods east of the Edgewater in an amendment of the TIF district - the one that would allow the redevelopment of Edgewater, and currently contains the Lucky building and University Square redevelopment - would somehow make there to be less trash and the buildings will be painted on a regular basis.

How being in a TIF district makes the property owners be more responsible is a mystery. I think the argument is that the properties will turn over and be owned by more responsible people.

Sorry, I don't buy that. Or maybe Alder Maniaci is counting on many of the buildings being torn down and replaced by new buildings. Is that what we want?

If that's her plan, then she should admit that, and we can have a debate on that. I don't think that's a great idea, but we can discuss it.

Now, here's my notes from the Joint Review Board. This body is made up of people representing MATC, Madison Metropolitan School District, and Dane County as well as the City of Madison, that is the taxing bodies for the area. They are trying to decide whether to approve the amendment of the existing TIF district. Some explanations are in colored type, since I don't expect everyone to understand the references I made.

(I'm actually just here to escape the house, since I have no AC) [laughter. Joe Gromacki comments that I am welcome to stay until the meeting is over, which is likely to at least 8:30 PM. I assure them that I have no intent on going home before sunset.]

First, I should note that my only strong objection to this project all along has been the TIF, so I am not testifying to delay the project itself.

I admit that I wasn't following this closely enough to know there was an alternate before you, so maybe I am confused about what is being decided tonight. However, since there is no staff report for the alternate TID (tax incremental district), so how can you decide it's a good idea? I found out that, instead of the TID amendment presented when the Council debated the Edgewater, there is additional property to be included east of the Edgewater, in the area of James Madison Park. Also, apparently the Joint Review Board is not going to make a decision tonight. They will make a decision in September, when the Council presents a plan for this new TID amendment.

If you don't have the information on the proposed amendment tonight in order to make a decision, how is the public supposed to testify accurately? If there will be further information provided, I think you are going to have to allow pubic testimony at the next meeting as well, after the information has become available.

The previous staff report made it clear that the Edgewater certainly wouldn't cover the TIF before the TID closes, and I do not see any way that the additional land could cover the spread either.

This is a pretty big amendment, so maybe you should be asking, If this amendment was a separate TID, would it fly?

Agree with what Ledell said, but won't repeat it. Ledell Zellers made some very good points on the finances of this TID amendment and the Edgewater project TIF funding.

I also do not see attached to the materials the analysis that staff did for the Edgewater itself.

Although not bound by city TIF policy, should consider it. There was a question by David Worzala about whether the board was bound by the city TIF policy.

New properties (Edgewater) will not pay back TIF. City policy requires that TIF assistance must be paid back by the expected increment of the project.

More than 50% of the increment from this new project will go to one project. Also a violation of city TIF policy.

The city spent a great deal of time figuring out what our TIF policy should be. We came up with policies for a good reason, and although you are not bound to consider the city TIF policy, I think you should consider it when making your decision.

The blight listed for the James Madison area (and for much of the Langdon area) is an abuse of TIF policy, in my opinion. Similar to the Monroe Commons TID, which I voted for, but regret as a novice. These are older areas of the city, but the buildings are still being used and occupied, so I have to agree with Ms Mathiek that this is not true blight.