By Seth Daniel
Several city councillors have been surveying residents over the past week in anticipation of one of the biggest votes many have faced in quite some time – a decision on whether or not to grant a 20-year Tax Increment Financing (TIF) agreement to ACS Development, builders of the new FBI building.
The vote is expected to be taken on Monday night, Jan. 23.
Some residents have voiced opposition to the agreement, while business leaders and City Manager Tom Ambrosino have pleaded their case for what they say is a critical promise made to the developer long ago.
The agreement calls for a TIF for 20 years on the new FBI building that would allow them a 50 percent reduction on the value of the building for tax purposes over 15 years and a 40 percent reduction over five years. It is a break from the norm as most TIFs have been 10 years or less. The reduction in taxes only comes on new value added, and the taxes on the property before the development were $55,000. Even with the TIF, the taxes paid per year would be more than $800,000, the City has pointed out.
The taxes with the TIF would start out at $870,000, and without the TIF they would start at $1.739 million.
At a meeting on Monday, Jan. 9, ACS Development detailed their need to a Council Committee on Conference. The said the project is not sustainable without the TIF, and was contemplated and expected as the FBI development went forward for nearly 10 years.
Meanwhile, a few residents were allowed to speak in opposition of the TIF.
Fran Roznowski said she was against the TIF because it set a precedent of 20 years. She said she isn’t against all TIFs and referenced a rejected TIF for a proposed Anheuser-Busch beer bottling facility many years ago.
“I agreed with that TIF because I thought it would bring jobs to the city,” she said.
John Harris, a property owner in the city, said his taxes have gone up substantially.
“My taxes on one property went up 40 percent,” he said. “I didn’t get a TIF. I wouldn’t give them this.”
That was balanced by business leaders like Chamber of Commerce President Sergio Jaramillo and Economic Development Board member Rick Pantano.
“These are good people,” said Pantano.
Several councillors have already voiced their support for the TIF, and a preliminary count of those pledging support looks to total at least five of the six necessary votes to approve.