Or how IFO finally decided to get back into the fight against this pernicious government program. She fired her first shot as a letter to the editor of her local paper:
To the editor:
Today city Public Works guys were in our neighborhood cleaning streets, sealing cracks, and doing the upkeep that makes our town so nice.
That got me to thinking – that care means we’re less likely to have to do big projects needed due to lack of maintenance, the way some school buildings are allowed to deteriorate so a new one becomes necessary.
Shortly afterwards, an ambulance and two fire trucks sped past my house on an urgent call. Later, I walked past the swimming pool, library, police building and city hall. These represent city services enjoyed by any citizen who needs them.
That’s not true of Urban Renewal. In Urban Renewal a certain amount of tax money that would normally go to the city is siphoned off and devoted to a small part of the city. And not to any city service, but only to “renewal” projects.
In another nearby town, recent urban renewal “accomplishments” included drafting a marketing plan for Old Town, developing an infrastructure financing plan for the UR district, and holding small business workshops.
According to statewide figures, 55 urban renewal agencies collected $157 million in 2005 and $165 million in 2006. That’s $322 million in property tax money diverted to UR in two years.
Total UR indebtedness in that town, whose agency is 10 years old, is $38 million, to be paid at $3 million dollars this year. That $3 million does not go into the city general fund.
A final note: Three other cities about the same size as ours ave UR districts. Our town’s population grew at 23.6 percent, the other three cities all grew much more slowly. UR does not foster general growth.
Urban renewal is a no-win proposition for city residents, but not for private property owners inside the UR districts.