I was amused by the way my friend Mike Graybill's (and I do consider him a friend, even if we don't agree on some issues) framed the narrative in his recent letter to the editor concerning the payments in lieu of property taxes under the Community Enhancement Plan.
FACT: the payments he considers bribes are in fact payments JCEP would not have to pay under Enterprise Zone rules. In return for an extension of time on tax abatement, the project agrees to pay these fees in lieu of taxes. I believe you will find it is structured so JCEP will ultimately pay the same amount of money to the participating taxing agencies as they would without the extension but by making this arrangement the agencies get the benefit of the money up front instead of having to wait five or so years for the project to be completed. FACT: in order for the project to proceed it must obtain certain permits, regardless of how the payments are structured, whether as Community Enhancement fees in lieu of property tax or as property tax years down the road. FACT: If the permits at issue are not granted, there will be no project and, therefore, no Community Enhancement fees nor future property taxes on assets, which, in the aggregate, will be valued at more than double (yes, double) the total tax revenues our county, schools, cities and others now rely on. Since most are curtailing services due to lack of funding now and costs are rising faster than revenues are growing, one can reasonably anticipate the situation to get worse, not better. It is simple, no project, no money from either fees or taxes. Of course we could just vote in a tax increase. Or we can just keep on letting the area sink ever deeper into poverty. What do you think is best for you.
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