Downtown Development, Redevelopment or Urban Renewal sounds like a really good deal, something we all want, right?
It’s not too likely your local officials informed you about the downside of newly developed entities (or decisions) when they sold you on approving them. That is, if you as a community were even asked to approve them. I personally don’t appreciate my government officials being those kinds of salesman.
The DDA and the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority are both authorized to capture taxes through what’s called Tax Increment Financing (TIF), see the diagram below. Local governments set up TIF districts AND they can and do use them as a loophole to bypass State restrictions and caps on municipal property tax collections.
Warning; objects in government are more powerful than they appear!
The DDA was set up to use TIF for funding and they also have the authority to impose an operating millage (property tax levy on all real and personal property within the DDA district). TIF districts have been a money-making tool for a select few and a burden on the rest of us. A TIF district can easily be claimed (anywhere) with a study, a declaration of “blight” followed by eminent domain and a cash cow for their favorite developer. Private property becomes funding for a select few to make a profit at the taxpayers’ expense while diverting taxes up to 30 years from services like schools and utilities (sewer and water). In fact the DDA are authorized to also capture school taxes. Read Act 197 of 1975, section 125.1661 on financing.
Our cost to fight back after the damage is done is astronomical. I found many a court case across the country where average people have gone to court to get their property back or prevent it from being taken. How many would still assume their officials will do the right thing, after finding out they provided us with half of the story? A government big enough to give us everything is also a government big enough to take away…everything.
Thanks to interaction with some of Blissfield’s elected and appointed officials for the compilation of this information, I am indebted. If all those red flags weren’t raised, I would never have even looked into this topic so deeply. I was guilty of blind faith, assuming everything was being done to protect and advance the electorate’s best interest. Tax Increment Financing was developed to pay for urban renewal and the DDA was to create development projects to increase the tax base. Our DDA uses TIF to funds for their operating costs. I’d like to hear some debate about exactly how they increase the tax base and how that benefits me. It seems the more they can capture, the more they just spend.