Monday, August 12, 2013

THE LENS - WHO PAYS

Below are excerpts from a recent comment Posted in the Tampa Bay Times by Bill Ballard of Concerned Citizens regarding the LENS financing. They are a good read if you have not yet voted.
The city’s 2013 adopted financial plan, available online, shows the transfer of 4.66 million dollars out of the general fund and 3.48 from the County as the funding source for the downtown redevelopment district. 
 All downtown taxes go into the general fund.  There is no special downtown tax or tax rate. 
The general fund provides all of us police, fire and other basic services, but the redevelopment  laws have a formula that requires the city to appropriate the 4.66 million for downtown redevelopment which means that downtown’s net property tax contribution for the services it gets through all our taxes is light that amount. 
Who pays the difference.  Everyone outside of downtown, even renters who just pay utility taxes.  That is why the questions for all taxpayers are “Is the Lens worth 50 million dollars of our tax money” and “Can we do better with this money?”   
Why is this question of Who Pays important?  WOWSTPETE, The Times, the mayor and Build The Pier have all published statements that all the money comes from the downtown property owners.  
A voter outside of downtown may  think The Lens is a bad idea, but may vote NO to defeat our ordinance which would terminate this project if they feel that:  if the Lens is what the downtowners want, why worry if it is a good investment of tax dollars, someone else is paying. 
Some facts. 
The 1982 taxable property value downtown was $108 million. In 2012 it was $825 million.  Multiplying the 1982 base value times the 2013 city millage rate (6.77/1000) yields $0.73 million in 2013 city property taxes.  $4.66 million divided by 0.95 (a safety factor in the TIF formula) = $4.91 million, so the total tax collected from downtown and collected into the general fund = $5.64 million. 
With $4.66 million transferred from the general fund to the redevelopment trust for downtown capital improvements, downtown is only contributing $0.98 million for the basic general services it receives despite the obvious growth in the cost of those services since 1982.  Everyone pays, and that includes downtowner’s who also must contribute, through uniformly applied taxes and service charges, to fund the $4.66 million appropriation for the disproportionate benefit downtown receives. 
 If the LENS had  any functional value, or appeal there would not be all of this uproar. The folks who have run St. Pete for a long time are getting their toes stepped on and they don't like it.
Don't let anyone fool you, every Citizen of St. Petersburg pays for whatever is built on the water front and the cost to maintain it.
Don't get stuck paying for something you don't want VOTE YES TO STOP THE LENS.
e-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net, or send me a Facebook Friend request.
Campaign Disclosures: Contributor to Kathleen Ford Campaign, Darden Rice Campaign, Concern Citizens of St. Petersburg
Have your say.  VOTE YES TO Stop The Lens.
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