I think everyone agrees, we just don’t agree to what degree – actual benefits or benefits that never materialize.
Community benefits for TIF more people who generally bring up the fact that we should get community benefits if we are to aid developers to the tune of millions of dollars in developing buildings they then profit from for years to come mean the following types of things:
- Affordable Housing
- Community Gardens
- Community Meeting Spaces
- Labor agreements – local hiring, living wage jobs, card check neutrality
- Parks and usable green space, roof top gardens, etc
- Sustainable building practices
Tangible things that we can get immediately.
Community benefits for those who speak out against them (like Delora Newton from the Chamber of Commerce did at the TIF meeting last night, as do developers, business groups, Realtors and all their lobbyists) mean we wait up to 27 years for the additional taxes generated by the development to get the tax benefits and then maybe the government will spend additional money for the things listed above – or probably they will spend it on snow plowing, garbage pick up, policing and EMS and other services to support the development. So, no community benefits, except to the developer who got a better financing package while the city took on all the risk by borrowing the money and hoping it gets paid back by the additional taxes, and the community . . . well they wait for benefits that never materialize.
Many communities use “Community Benefit Agreements” when developers get TIF. Wikipedia explains the “purpose” of these agreements.
Economic development projects are often heavily subsidized by taxpayer dollars, but there is usually no guarantee that a project’s “ripple effects” will benefit current residents. Developments can cause inner-city gentrification, pushing out low-income residents as housing prices rise, or they may create only low-wage retail and service sector jobs. As a result, many metropolitan regions continue to experience problems related to poverty and housing, despite major investments in economic development.
Responding to these problems, the CBA model was created in the late 1990s as a way for the communities most impacted by economic development projects to participate in the planning process and seek to ensure that development benefits will accrue to existing communities. For developers, negotiating with community representatives can be an attractive way to gain community support and help move their projects forward. Participating in CBA negotiations can eliminate surprises in the development approvals process and allow developers to work with a unified coalition rather than having to engage community organizations one by one.
Why can’t Madison have community benefits agreements or at least up front community benefits when developers get millions of dollars of financing and the taxpayer gets the risk?
(Note: Progressive Dane first brought this up over 10 years ago – Stephanie Rearick brought it to the group – and the alders brought it up – but as usual, it was too late, there wasn’t a concrete plan, we were told we would work on it . . . wait for it . . . later . . . and of course, later never happened. Still talking about it . . . still not happening.)
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