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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Concerns Surrounding DIF Program Raised At Second Public Hearing

Proposed DIF section
The second public hearing on the proposed DIF program raised serious questions, specifically from members of the Board of Alderman, about the vast plan submitted by the Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development that suggests designating 460 acres (17.4%) of the city as DIF districts (the maximum amount of land that can be included in a DIF program is 25%).

Alderman at Large, William White Jr., described a common scenario surrounding both DIF and TIF programs where the revenue gained from DIF sections, expectedly, would be invested back into the DIF and not be used for other (possibly struggling) aspects of the city including police, fire, and education needs. He went on to question whether the Board of Alderman had the right to allocate the money where needed and how the State statute, missing from the DIF proposal, outlines expectations and rights of governing bodies.

Alderman at Large, Bruce Desmond tackled the land acquisition list which named property owners and parcel addresses that the city would acquire through purchase or eminent domain where applicable. He requested an explanation as to why the city would take each of the properties to be submitted in writing.

The Finance Committee, however, was not finished with the infamous acquisition list that prompted emotional testimony from numerous property owners at both the September 15th and October 6th meetings. One owner pointed out the “death sentence” that being on this list put on his property; noting that he would be unable to sell or lease the property.

Ward 4 Alderman, Walter Pero put concerned citizens’ minds to rest by insisting that, although there are two opportunities to have the DIF approved by the State before the July 2011 assessment period, the Board of Alderman will take its time reading through the proposal before making a decision. October 28th has been circulating as a possible decision date, but the attending board members maintained a “we’ll decide when we’re ready” stance at last night’s meeting.

What was agreed upon last night was that, when correctly implemented, a DIF program can be successful and lead to growth. However, residents question what the cost to the city would be? Is it worth it to take a thriving business such as Ricky’s Flower Market and replace it with a parking lot in an attempt to, hopefully, attract developers and investors? This and other questions are now in the hands in the Board of Alderman as they begin deliberations to either accept the proposed program as is, modify it before accepting it, or reject it completely.

Please know that you can submit thoughts on the DIF to any member of the Board of Alderman. You can find their contact information through the Links/Information page here on the website.


Here are some helpful links about the DIF program:

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