As if to illustrate my point, my good friend Chuco Geek had this to say about my most recent article regarding the way some people seem to be willfully misstating the facts about Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones:
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.
A competing interpretation comes from the Texas Comptroller:
When a municipality or county creates a TIRZ, it records the total taxable value of all real property within the zone. It’s like a snapshot in time of what the property values are at that specific moment. That snapshot is the zone’s base value.
Each year, property taxes collected in the zone on base value continue to go into the municipality’s or county’s general fund, as most property taxes do.
But as property in the TIRZ develops and becomes more valuable, a portion of the taxes collected on property above the base value is deposited into a tax increment fund. Revenue deposited in the tax increment fund can be only used to financing projects within the zone, including infrastructure, facade programs, landscaping, streetscaping or practically any type of public enhancement.
You can read my explanation of the TIRZ in the comments of the original post, right under Mr. Geek’s disparaging comment.
Mr. Geek’s apology, by the way, has not yet been received.
Apparently Mr. Geek’s misinterpretation is widespread. You can read it on any of the local blogs bent on persuading you through lies and misinformation. I’m sure those bloggers mean well. For their sponsors. Not for El Paso’s taxpayers.
What TIRZ 12 means to every El Pasoan is that those people in the TIRZ are going to take the money the rest of us put into the general fund, for public safety and street repairs, and use it for “streetscaping or practically any type of public enhancement.”
A monorail, maybe, or a soft serve ice cream cart.
When you’re selling a blind horse, the first thing you tell the mark is how good the horse can see.