I’m pleased to hear that formal legal opposition is developing to the vast Tax Increment Finance giveaway Mayor Pat Hays has engineered in North Little Rock for developer Bruce Burrow and (to a lesser extent) a neighborhood redevelopment plan in Baring Cross. (The latter more fits the notion of addressing blighted neighborhoods, but the gradual build-out of residential property doesn’t seem likely to produce the instant bump-up in property value and increased tax flow that typically make TIF projects work.)
The Burrow giveaway is the real outrage and it’s being sold on lies — that sales taxes somehow benefit schools and that robbing Peter (another retailer) to pay Paul (Bass Pro) somehow is a net benefit. The Burrow project also envisions capturing all the increased taxes on the development, including the base 25-mill charge for education that one court and an attorney general’s opinion have said belong to the schools not retail developers. But, in NLR, they follow the law of Hays and Burrow, not the statute and Constitution. (The same with the notion that Supreme Court precedent doesn’t apply to the new NLR ballpark, which, since it is leased to a private entity, should go on the property tax rolls and help schools, too.)
Bottom line: I was assured today that an unfriendly lawsuit will be filed for a declaratory judgment on what tax may be captured for a TIF and, I hope, whether the school tax can be taken at all, given the Constitutional bar of using money voted for schools for any other purpose.
Meanwhile, I’m trying to figure how the mayor was telling the truth when he told me a few weeks ago that the Bruce Burrow TIF district would be limited to the shopping center site. It appears from a map in the newspaper today to cover a vast area of several square miles. More explanation is needed.