Re: Deborah Scott speech to the Pachyderm Club:
Deborah Scott may sincerely believe that a “cranky guard dog” is what government needs today. I’ve heard other politicians try to appeal to the electorate with the “guard dog” image as well.
But what’s sorely lacking in today’s political climate is intelligent human beings who can carry on a conversation, arrive at reasonable conclusions, and make a decision. Such skills are not found in a kennel.
Perhaps Ms. Scott might gain some insight from reading the biography of Benjamin Franklin, whose advice to the first Constitutional Convention was to “consult, not contend.” This attitude led to the compromises that our nation’s government is built upon. The ability to work together is what made the States, “United.”
If Ms. Scott brought some facts to the conversation her fellow representatives might take her more seriously. However, in support of her “no” vote, she often resorts to misinformation and falsehood.
She seems to have a particular aversion to the project at Black Creek, and has continually misrepresented the facts in support of her opposition.
Facts are pesky, though. They won’t go away, and they won’t change. The facts as regards the Black Creek TIF request are these:
The city is not spending $9 million in tax funds to build the road up Aetna Mountain. The developer is in fact funding-in-full the construction of that road. The city and the county agree to pay back that cost of the road only if the tax increase the developer promises actually materializes. If that tax increase (on land the developer currently owns) does not materialize, the city and county are not out one dime. The private investors lose their $9 million; the city and county still have a new road.
High margin tax properties (as will be on Aetna Mountain) are exactly the kind of development the city needs to pay for the improvements to the sewer system. Fourteen-hundred homes won’t become a burden- they will become the engine that pulls the rest of the city through.
Ms. Scott is missing one of the critical parts of any government planning, which is shared with business planning: high margin business is good business. But Ms. Scott has no business experience.
As for an example of a similar road built by the government to open an area to development, how about Cummings Highway? The government paid for that road. That seemed to work out okay for this part of town.
If the rest of the Council adopted a similar stance, Chattanooga certainly would not have attracted VW, Alstom, Wacker, Amazon, or any of the other businesses that saw a town on the move, led by the responsible majority of the Council. If we elect a majority of “guard dogs” like Ms. Scott suggests, we will soon have a city that has indeed “gone to the dogs.”
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Contrary to Doug Stein’s comments, Councilwoman Deborah Scott is highly respected well beyond her district. She is the technical researcher of the City Council, and beloved by citizen groups.
The Black Creek TIF is a taxpayer robbery on the backs of the existing taxpayer base. We the existing taxpayers will be forced to subsidize all the services to the Black Creek high end subdivision development until the bonds are paid in full. Of course, Mr. Stein left that part out.
TIF property tax abatements are supposed to enhance urban areas. Yet, in this case, it is undisputed that the urban areas are subsidizing the gated-pool house crowd. That is really messed up.
Mr. Stein fails to mention that all city and county property taxes (except the school portion) generated from the new Black Creek housing development will be directed to make the developer’s bond payments. So, we the taxpayers will be funding the Aetna Mountain, Black Creek garbage service, emergency services, infrastructure maintenance for the entire duration of the bond issue period for over a decade, possibly 20 years depending on the bond duration approved by the Industrial Board.
What is most surprising to me is that the TIF was issued to Black Creek without our local governments fully quantifying in detail the cost to the taxpayers to fund services to his Black Creek development for a 10 to 20 year period, absent any additional tax revenue from the development. Was our government asleep at the wheel, or looking the other way is my question, because the additional taxes generated from the Black Creek development will go directly to the bond payments, instead of supplying mandated services from the municipality.
There were no estimates of cost to the city and county taxpayers to provide services over one to two decades, or an analysis of the possibility that a new school will have to be constructed to serve new housing units, just a commitment of our capital taxpayer investment. Yes, taxpayer investment, because all property taxes will be deferred to the bond payments.
There will come a day when the public will be keenly aware that the Pilots and TIF’s for friends programs have been abused. Until that time, we expect our elected representatives to represent the taxpayer’s best interest.
It is simply mind boggling that our local governments approved a bond issue for the Black Creek development without amortizing the capital with respect to the cost of providing services. Several organizations filed open records, and our local government did not examine the cost of services.
The only “falsehoods” being perpetrated are the false benefits of the Black Creek TIF to the public. Thanks, we are keeping Deborah Scott.
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Chattanooga did not attract VW - they hung a $600,000,000 pork chop around their neck that VW couldn't refuse. Twice what the next highest pork chop was.
Chattanooga Tea Party
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Mr. Stein, you say "But what’s sorely lacking in today’s political climate is intelligent human beings who can carry on a conversation, arrive at reasonable conclusions, and make a decision."
Yes, I am sure you are very familiar with many politicians and their decision making process. Just because Deborah Scott is a fiscally responsible public servant that does not agree with you is no reason to disrespect her.
You have had your way with politician after politician agreeing with your business dealings, as described on the front page of the only newspaper in Chattanooga on July 8, 2012, Aetna Mountain developers still benefiting from taxpayer role in 'deal of a lifetime', an excellent article. You left that part out.
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I don't know who exactly Doug Stein is sometimes. In disagreeing with Deborah Scott today he is representing Black Creek, the leader of a billion dollar development, however when pressed by the media about his involvement concerning the questionable "deal of a lifetime" land deal concerning the Federal Legacy program, he says he is a minor player. In some responses lately dealing with the TIF program, that he disagrees with Deborah Scott on, he says the main player is York Capitol a multi billion dollar company with the liaison being Brant Enderle.
Mr. Stein, since there is a billion dollar company running things, why ask the citizens of Hamilton County invest a dime in your billion dollar project since they already have enough issues to pay for like the sewer, police, you name it? Deborah Scott seems to reason using a TIF for such a private venture when others are more deserving of tax relief is ludicrous, and I agree with her.
Your response to her was very rude, and to some, extremely arrogant. Just recently you, figuratively, came on your hands and knees begging for tax relief funding when many know it is not warranted for a multi billion dollar company, York Capital and yourself and it was approved against public opinion. What breed of dog do you have, political lap dogs?
City Council person Deborah Scott is right and has the facts to prove it.
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I respect City Councilor Deborah Scott for questioning the use of taxpayer dollars for a road up Aetna/Black Creek Mountain.
I agree with Black Creek developer Doug Stein when he writes in his recent opinion piece that "what is sorely lacking in today's political climate is intelligent human beings who can carry on a conversation, arrive at reasonable conclusions, and make a decision." What is ironic about this statement is that Mr. Stein and his partners, including a New York hedge fund, have been part of a process that has severely minimized the opportunities for a conversation. After the public first found out about this project, there were no public hearings for citizens to address either the County Commission or City Council about using tax increment financing. It became very clear that the development team had been lobbying the elected officials for months prior to their votes in June. Our elected representatives never heard the legitimate questions some members of the public may have had. I asked in July if the project were going to be on the July 24 agenda of the Industrial Development Board, a public body. An attorney representing the developers told me that he wouldn't tell me because I did not have an attorney. That "conversation" made an impression on me. I arrived at a "reasonable conclusion" and made a "decision" to hire an attorney.
I am not anti-development. I think Black Creek is a very nice subdivision and an asset to Chattanooga. I don't know Mr. Stein or Mr, Chazen personally, but I hear and believe that they are well-respected businessmen who give back to the community. I am familiar with tax increment financing from my professional experience in another state. I think it can be a valuable economic development tool. But I think it would be terrible public policy and a bad precedent for Chattanooga/Hamilton County if bonds are issued so that taxpayers from throughout Hamilton County subsidize what is in effect a $9 million dollar driveway to a residential development where the smattering of projected commercial activity would be available to Black Creek "members" only. Unlike Cummings (or Ochs or Scenic or Taft) highway, this will be a city street that benefits only the development built on the top.
Supporters of a tax subsidy for this project liken it to the public subsidies granted to companies like VW, Alstom, Wacker, and Amazon. I don't see the similarity. Where are the permanent, decent paying, private sector jobs at Black Creek? The jobs the developers allude to in their required "economic impact plan" appear to be very few in number and low paying.
Black Creek is a Black Sheep in the "family" of tax increment financing. There is no benefit to the public to warrant the use of taxpayer funds for this road. Studies from throughout the country have shown that residential development does not pay its own way. For every dollar in property tax collected, it costs more than $1.15 to provide services such as fire, police, garbage collection and road maintenance. Under the current scenario, the property taxes that would normally be paid by the new residents who need services would go to the developers to pay off the bonds. For 15 or so years, taxpayers, primarily in Chattanooga, will in effect be paying for their services.
If the developers want to develop the top of the mountain, fine. Let them pay for the road up it. No one is requiring them to develop it. I hope in the future when someone googles "questionable uses of tax increment financing," Black Creek Mountain isn't the top hit.
Helen Burns Sharp
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Mr. Stein's comments regarding Deborah Scott just show he doesn't like anyone questioning his motives for TIF monies.
I applaud Deborah Scott for asking questions and standing up for the citizens in Hamilton County. She was actually doing her job and doing it well. The "other" City Council members who chose to ride the fence or chose to bow out are the weak links in our city government. Makes me wonder if there were payouts or kickbacks for those who voted in favor of Doug Stein's being awarded TIF monies.
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What all you folks, dissenters of Mr. Stein's opinion, don't understand is this is merely a public/private partnership. That's all. Taxpayers get the risk, and the privateers get the goldmine. Our elected officials and their appointed functionaries are constantly telling us how good these partnerships are for us and we all accept they know best. We must. We keep electing the same ones over and over and over again, or their chosen ones.
It's sort of like Mom telling us to eat boiled spinach or stewed okry when we were little. It's good for us, except stewed okry always reminded me of a bucket of snot with big old boogers floating around in it. I never could get that image out of my mind. It resurfaces every time anyone says something's going to be good for me... VW, Wacker, Amazon, all those other companies Tennessee's hung a pork chop around our collective necks to make them like us.
Is that aquarium paying it's own way yet? How about that humongous hotel and convention center?
Ah, crony capitalism at its finest, or prime examples of, as my favorite TreeHugger is wont to say, "wealthy white people with a sense of entitlement." Welfare is still welfare, isn't it. Stein and his ilk are no different from those we pay not to work because they have too much playing to do, and politicians are perfectly willing to pay them while they do it... both not working and, um, "it"... and they pay them with money the rest of us earn.
All this... while Chattanooga cops have their earned pay and benefits either taken away or put on hold... or the elected school board spends money on frivolity instead of demanding that every kid can read before leaving the 3rd grade...
Royce E. Burrage, Jr.
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I totally agree with Deborah Scott on her oppisition to the TIF for Black Creek. I am glad she is not facing censorship for her opposition to the TIF. The city of Chattanooga was a party to the lawsuit brought by Black Creek, which was settled in 2010 however, I am aware of a couple of people being sued for speaking out against the TIF for Black Creek. It is interesting that only a select few are being targeted.
Indeed though, Mr. Stein as you said, "Facts are Pesky" such as the words, "Subject To Aetna Mountain Road" being in ones deed and not respecting it and subsequently obliterating part of the road and selling lots to unsuspecting home owners.
In time, more facts will be proven in court how some at Black Creek have violated the 2010 court order. Yes, the facts will be very "pesky" for those who will be held accountable for their actions.
Another "pesky fact" is that the map that was presented to the City Council that they voted upon was incorrect. It showed land that did not even belong to Black Creek being in the TIF District and again violated the 2010 settlement agreement as it showed some access routes being obstructed. Why would council members who voted "Yes" for the TIF not change their votes as they voted on incorrect information being presented to them?
Why does the attorney representing continue to say there is paved access to property on the mountain via West End Avenue when no such road on Aetna Mountain currently nor in the past to my knowledge has ever existed? But yet another "pesky fact"?
I could go on and on about other "pesky facts" that involve Black Creek but I digress.
Recently, Mr. Stein has said how he is just a minority share holder in Black Creek and how he doesn't have much involvement. I find it interesting, however that when the subject of the TIF comes up he seems to have a more active role.
Yes, I commend Ms. Scott for taking a strong stand and the facts speak for themselves and those council members who voted "Yes," we as citizens should send them a strong message when election time roles around.
Since, Mr. Stein wants to recommend books for Ms. Scott to read, I would like to make a recommendation for him to pick up a good book on business ethics.
It is time for Black Creek to stand on their own and for the government handouts to end once and for all.