Your Opinion: TIF for mall opposed

Dear Editor:

Here we go again. Welfare for the rich.

Socialism for the well connected. A slap in the face for taxpayers.

How is it that the elite class of our society, those at the top of the wealth ladder, get special tax treatment and tax rebates while our city streets and sidewalks go unrepaired and the city has a tax revenue shortfall?

The Farmer Company which recently bought the Capital Mall, has won the approval of the Tax Increment Financing Commission. No surprise about that. The TIF Commission roster reads like a list of all the “good ol boys” of Cole County. Not one of them dared to vote no.

TIF is in effect a scam for property owners to escape paying property taxes, by calling buildings “blighted.” This is a bad deal for taxpayers because the taxpayers never get back all of the tax money rebated to the developers. The theory is that after the 23 years is up — yes this is for 23 years — the mall will pay higher property taxes because it has been improved. But by that time the place will need renovation again, so we lose, The city will never recoup the tax money it gave away. Then the owners apply for another TIF and the legalized scam is repeated by the new owner. I wish I could call my house blighted so I could get a free paint job. I’ll talk to the city to see if I qualify. I won’t hold my breath.

Property taxes are a major part of school revenue. So our kids are the losers too whenever TIF is used.

If they are successful in this tax travesty, what will prevent other businesses from doing the same thing? The result will be higher property and school taxes for the average homeowner because they will have to make up the tax shortfall the Capital Mall and other TIFs created.

On Oct. 27 the News Tribune ran two excellent stories on the TIF but are taxpayers tuned in? Do we really care about the dealings of our government, or are we all asleep at the wheel of our democracy?

Next stop for this TIF travesty is the City Council. I predict that not one of them will vote no.

Just remember that each time a TIF is approved you, Joe and Mary Taxpayer, make up the difference. Is a place that sells overpriced jewelry and clothes made in China really worth your tax dollars?

Call your city councilman and complain.

Issue-oriented letters to the editor in response to this or about other local topics are welcome. All letters should be limited to 400 words. The author's name must appear with the letter, and the name, address and phone number provided for verification. Letters that cannot be verified by telephone will not be published. Send letters for publication to editor@newstribune.com