To the editor:
According to the article “City sees TIF as housing tool” in the Sept. 25, 2017, Telegram, Columbus’ shortage of work-force housing is so desperate that TIF (tax increment financing), a shell game which cleverly reassigns future tax revenue from public schools to real estate developments, must now be used to correct the free market’s failure to supply the housing needs of local employers.
As city administrator Vasicek tells it, Columbus’ housing shortage is due to high-priced lots, infrastructure, and land. TIF, she claims, “can come in ... and lower those initial input costs and get an end result that is more affordable.” What? TIF doesn’t lower input “costs,” it just transfers the obligation to pay for such expenses from well-heeled developers to our public schools which, last I read, were coming up short not only in terms of academic performance, but funding too.
While one would certainly expect a school board to object to plans by the city to confiscate/redirect tax revenue from our cash-strapped schools, don’t count on it. The first duty of our elected officials today is to serve the interests of big business, not taxpayers. Besides, getting money from taxpayers is much easier, and far less risky, than daring to argue with powerful community leaders.
For anyone who claims to believe that TIF really puts the interests of “taxpayers first,” ask them to explain, in terms of dollars and common sense, just how it is that the typical taxpayer stands to benefit from new apartment complexes made possible by funding from schools that are already running short of money? When it’s clear that they can’t even begin to answer that question logically, then ask, “if large apartment complexes are built with TIF subsidies, how long will it be before public schools are forced to beg voters to approve a tax increase?"