Cousin Lemp’s Whack-A-Mole Bad Habit

There’s this fallacy circulating that TIRZ 12 means that only the people who buy land up there on the mountain will pay for the stormwater infrastructure that the TIRZ advocates claim is necessary.

But look at it this way. Let’s say you and your cousin Lemp go the fair, and you both agree to share a taxi home. But Lemp spends all his money playing Whack-a-mole, so he doesn’t have his half of the taxi fare. So guess who gets to pick up the tab?

You, right? And Cousin Lemp gets a free ride.

So what’s the big deal? Lemp spent his own money on Whack-a-mole. Right?

So, sure, the money raised by the TIRZ will be spent on stormwater infrastructure (and bridges over the arroyos, and any other amenities the TIRZ management board deems worthwhile), but it won’t be spent on all the other things that we pay our property taxes for. Things like fixing the potholes on Alameda Upson. Or public safety. Or the wonderful new Children’s Museum.

Or subsidizing the ballpark’s operating costs. Or Tommy Gonzalez’s salary. Or the Eastside Rec Center.

That’s right. The money those developers and homeowners spend on stormwater infrastructure is money that doesn’t go into the general fund.

Saying that they’re paying for the infrastructure improvements is disingenuous, because they’re paying for the infrastructure improvements instead of paying for all the other stuff that you and I pay property taxes for.

That’s so elementary that I think that the people making those arguments must be trying to trick you.

Why would they do that?


  1. RIch,

    You are lying. People in a TIRZ pay the same taxes that we all pay and those taxes go into the general fund just like everyone else’s do. In addition to those taxes they also pay into the TIRZ and that money is spent on whatever the TIRZ is supposed to spend money on. In theory this means that they pay more in taxes/fees for their piece of land and they are able to get some things fast tracked and built faster than if they waited around for the powers that be to work something into the overall budget.

    That’s not to say that setting up a TIRZ to facilitate the destruction of open space just so that developers can make more money by encouraging sprawl is a good thing, but saying that the property owners don’t pay the same taxes that we do is disingenuous. In general they end up paying more in taxes but then they get to decide what to spend the extra money on. IMO there is no need to twist the whole TIRZ thing to be something it isn’t since it’s already bad enough. This is one of those things that makes me uncomfortable with you running for office. You can tell us the truth and explain it the way you are good at doing and it is plenty bad enough without having to twist things to sound worse than they are.

    Oh and FYI Alameda is a state road so the City generally doesn’t fix potholes on it. We have TxDOT to thank for the crappy shape that Alameda is in.

    If you really want something to get your panties in a bunch over, look at the City’s policy of only incorporating property when the property owner wants to. This lets developers sit on valuable real estate while only paying County taxes even if they are in a doughnut hole surrounded by the City (and effectively receiving City services). It’s a great way for politicians to help out their developer buddies who aren’t ready to develop land on the edges of the City and I never hear anyone get upset about such a blatant movida like that.

    1. Mr. Geek,

      I am surprised that you don’t know more about TIRZs.

      Property owners in a TIRZ pay taxes on the value of a property at the time the TIRZ was established. If the property increases in value, the TIRZ management district retains the increase on the ad valorem tax that result from development inside the zone. In the case of TIRZ 12, the TIRZ management district retains 33% of the tax on the increased value.

      Think about it. Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone. You know words, don’t you? Don’t you have some of the best words?

      Perhaps you have Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone confused with a Public Improvement District. In a PID, the property owners do pay more taxes. But we’re talking about a TIRZ.

      Since obviously you think that I’m a liar, let me offer a reference. Here is a PowerPoint from the Texas Chapter of the American Planning Association. TIRZs are covered on page 15.

      I think, if you’re going to erroneously call me a liar, you should at least use your real name. Maybe you can include it with your apology.

      Huh, buddy?

      1. Maybe that’s too complicated for you. So look at it this way. Say you have an acre lot in the desert that’s worth, say, $1,000. If you build a million dollar house on it, and the house is in a TIRZ, the TIRZ gets to keep that taxes on the house. The General Fund only gets the tax on the original $1,000.

        The people who own property in the TIRZ don’t pay more in taxes than people who live outside of the TIRZ, but the TIRZ gets to keep some of the money for neighborhood improvements.

        Does that clear up your misunderstanding?

  2. Ei RichiBoy,
    I have enjoyed and appreciated our short connection. I admire your social activitism, but I am too far removed from it to be involved. Please remove me from your posting list. Thanks, Felipe

    1. Felipe, honey,

      Unfortunately WordPress claims there’s no way to remove a follower. Probably there’s some way to do it on your end.

      It’s like we’re married.


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