Alder Mark Clear
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
WI Relay Service
In defense of the Edgewater TIF
On Monday the Board of Estimates will consider 13 amendments to the Mayor's proposed 2012 Capital Budget. Among them is one I submitted that would restore the full $16M funding for a TIF loan for the Edgewater project. The amendment is co-sponsored by nine of my colleagues. This amendment is necessary because the Mayor failed to reauthorize funding in his 2012 budget, despite campaign (and post campaign) promises not to interfere with the project.
You may remember that in May, 2010, the Council approved the land use for the Edgewater redevelopment, along with $16M in TIF assistance. Then Fred Mohs sued the city to stop the project, he lost, then he appealed, and the case has been sitting in the appeals court for nearly a year. (The project can't get financing with a legal cloud hanging over it.) If not for the lawsuit, the project likely would be well underway by now and the city's commitment would be invested.
The Edgewater approval process was complex, controversial, and gut-wrenching. It sapped a great deal of energy and resources from the council, city staff, the surrounding neighborhoods, and the city as a whole. Thousands of person-hours of our community capacity was spent promoting or opposing the project. This was perhaps the most well-vetted project in city history.
But at long last, a decision was made. Like it or hate it, it was done, and our community began a slow healing process.
I don't know anyone who wants to go through this again. Yet, here we are.
The circumstances of approval and the facts of the project have not changed. The arguments are exactly as they were sixteen months ago. There is no need to scrutinize yet again the value of TIF and the complex financing of the project. We did all that last year.
I believe this comes down to three fundamental issues:
- Respecting the integrity of the council's process and decision. Like it or hate it, the decision is made. Continuing to revisit previous decisions is a waste of resources and erodes the authority of the council.
- Honoring the commitment. The city gave its word, and that needs to mean something. Businesses, organizations and our citizens need to know that the city can be trusted to fulfill its pledges.
- Growing our economy. One thing that hasn't changed in 16 months is the anemic state of our economy. But one thing that has changed is the level of financial support our city gets from the state. Recalls or not, that change is permanent, and we need to be more self-sufficient by growing our economy and tax base, or risk a death spiral of increasing taxes and diminishing services that will erode our quality of life.
It is time to put the Edgewater decision behind us, again, and move forward on making Madison better.
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