The Failure of the 2012 Quality of Life Projects

They promised us economic development.

They promised us a vibrant downtown.

They promised us a minimal increase in property taxes.

In a recent email, former City Manager Joyce Wilson tries to deflect the blame for the failure: “Since the 2012 Quality of Life Bond passed, the mayor and city council has routinely expanded the scope of many projects, added new projects not initially funded, and raised taxes and issued debt to pay for them.”

Well, you didn’t see Ms. Wilson squawking about the actions of her successor Tommy Gonzalez. She never complained about Dee Margo. It’s only now that the current City Council is attempting to find some middle ground that she throws her tantrum.

Downtown has pockets of vibrancy, around the hotels, with new hotels coming in. But because TIRZ 5 covers downtown, none of those new developments contribute anything to the City’s General Fund. Which means that any increase in city services – e.g., police or fire fighting or street cleaning or garbage cleanup – are paid for by property owners in other parts of town.

TIRZ 5 was adopted during Joyce’s tenure.

Downtown also has lots of empty storefronts, check-cashing service centers, and places you can sell your plasma. That’s not exactly a “vibrant downtown”, unless you’re idea of vibrancy is Skid Row.

As far as economic development goes, in no boardroom in America has the question ever been asked, “Do they have a downtown arena?”


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