A public hearing will be held on December 21, at 6:30 p.m. to address a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) proposal of an additional $1 million property tax rebate for Offshore Enterprises LLC.

 As a tax-paying citizen, I urge you to attend or if you’re unable to, contact your city council members and encourage them to vote “No”.

If approved, the developer would pay little property tax for 15 years.  A million dollar TIF increase is a tax increase for everyone who currently pays property taxes. You will continue to pay for the essential city and county services used by the Offshore properties.  

You pay and they profit.

The use of TIF property tax rebates allows city government to take money from you, $100 or so at a time through property taxes and hand it to out-of-town developers a couple $100,000 at a time.  Why should we pay our fair share of property taxes for local services and schools when they don’t have to? TIF is a massive income redistribution from the ordinary taxpayer to million dollar developers. Wouldn’t you like to pay less than 16% of your property tax like they do?

TIFs are proven not to work. David Swenson, an ISU economist has studied TIFs for over 25 years.  He stated in his TIF research*, “exisiting taxpayers, its householders, wage earners, and retirees are aggressively subsidizing business growth and population via this practice.”  He further states, “We found virtually no statistically meaningful economic, fiscal, and social correlates with this practice in our assessment [of TIF]; consequently, the evidence that we analyzed suggests that net positions are not being enhanced – that the overall expected benefits do not exceed the public’s costs.”  Why spend another million dollars on something that is proven not to work, while placing a burden on other property taxpayers, and realizing economic returns far less than the public cost.

Offshore has already received over a million dollars in TIF tax rebates from a previously granted 2011 TIF agreement.  If the amendment is approved, Offshore would receive another $1,000,000 and have their taxes rebated to the year 2032 for a total of up to $3,000,000 in property tax rebates.

Why is paying property tax so important?  Our taxes finance a large portion of our most vital services at the city and county level, including city and county government, schools, police and fire protection.  Our taxes partially financed the new hospital.  In the foreseeable future, an increase in property taxes will be needed to fund a new jail and elementary school.  These are all necessary improvements that make Bellevue and Jackson County a great place to live. But it takes a large property tax base to pay for all these services. The more TIF rebates are used, the higher the property taxes are for the rest of us.

Act now before it is too late! Contact your Bellevue city council members and ask them to vote NO on the proposed amendment to the Offshore TIF agreement. Write a letter or join me at the public hearing to make your opinion known.  It will be too late to complain when you can’t afford your property taxes and have to sell your property or local governments lack the necessary funds to operate and provide vital services concerning education, safety and quality of life.

It’s time to stop economic development that doesn’t work, that transfers hard-earned wealth out of the county and allows a few people to decide what businesses get millions of dollars of assistance. Bellevue and Jackson County will only truly prosper when we return to allowing market forces to determine who succeeds and fails. Encourage the City Council to vote NO on the Offshore TIF amendment. This will help to keep taxes affordable and help us prosper.

If you want more information about Iowa TIFs, use your preferred search engine and type in David Swenson, TIF.  There is a lot to read.

David B. Kendell, taxpayer and concerned citizen

*Swenson, David and Liesl Eathington, “Do Tax Increment Finance Districts in Iowa Spur Regional Economic and Demograhic Growth or Squander Public Resources.” Department of Economics, Iowa State University, April 2002.