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Monday, April 26, 2010

Tualatin "urban renewal" dead again

The Tualatin City Council voted unanimously tonight not to extend the city's "urban renewal" program -- that is, to let it expire on June 30, when the "urban renewal" district's debt is paid in full. The council went from a proposed $120 million extension in a town hall on April 1, to an $18 million extension, to a $7.5 million extension, to zero.

Wise move. "Urban renewal" is nothing more than a bunch of developer handouts that occasionally work out for the taxpayers, but usually don't. The city can now spend more than $2 million a year that it's been paying in debt service on improving public services, and thus the quality of life of its residents. We Portland residents, who pay 25 cents into "urban renewal" out of every dollar we fork over in city property taxes, should be green with envy.

Comments (7)

Hopefully this is the wooden stake though its heart and it has been buried in a lead coffin too deep for a mere mortal to dig up! (credit to Tom Rubin)

Unfortunately developer weasels like to dig.


I'm usually with you on the waste that is Urban Renewal Funds. But then I found out that the PDC is extending the Interstate UR Funds to Alberta Street and the St. Johns area. It's nice to see North Portland get some love.

That said, Alberta Street really doesn't need it now. They are doing quite fine. I would just extend it to St. Johns.

Justin, like so many others duped by UR you are missing the point.
UR isn't love.
It's misappropriation under false pretenses and through a refined process of deceiving the public.

The reason Tulalatin UR died is because the public has finally seen it for what it is.

A deceitful shell game that redirects general fund basic services revenue away from those services while deliberately concealing that fact. Then over the decades of an UR district taxpayers have to pony up the replacement revenue with new or higher fees and taxes.

The hidden decision being made is one that adopts a spending plan which is intentionally less fiscally prudent.

City Councils or County Commissions deciding that locking up general fund revenue over decades for risky and admittedly lower priority needs is somehow suppose to be acceptable.

It isn't.

If any of these future visions, makeovers and developer play are to be funded I suggest honesty is the best policy. Officials should pursue general obligation bonds through voter approval.

If these Urban Renewal plans are so wonderful they should be able to get voters to say yes to paying for them and with money they are not already paying towards basic services.

Unfortunately for many years the use of UR-Tax Increment Financing has been the means to fund what voters would not agree to pay more for.

So the essentially covert taking of what they do pay and forcing them to replace it has been a thoroughly dishonest approach.

One which very often ends up in enormous public sums lost in bad investment, boondoggles and/or lining the pockets of partner developers, consultants and landowners.

Tualatin dodged the bullet this time around. But with those kinds of dollars up for grabs, I get the feeling they are going to recruit some weasels of their own. I'll bet some familiar names pop up next time around - Beaverton already has Mazziotti thank goodness...

Nah, it failed because it just wasn't enough money - the weasels like those $100 million plus pots o' money.

Tualatin already had recruited one of those experts.

Jeff Tashman, the lead go to Urban Renewal scheme consultant peddled by the League Of Oregon Cities.

He's also been hired by Beaverton.

His methods are nifty.


During questioning at the public hearing, I asked Tashman why he intentionally deceived us.
He said he didn't think the city council or Troutdale's citizens would understand the complexities of tax increment financing, so he withheld the tax increase impact information."

Fortunatley the methods perpetrators of UR/TIF schemes have run their shell game too long.

A warning!
If Beaverton is smart they will abandon their futile UR attempt and seek a voter approved general obligation bond approach to fund whatever lovely plan they come up with.

A plan that seeks to bail out the horrific failure of The Round while never admitting they already wasted millions.


Another interesting point about Oregon's over 100 urban renewal districts, is the "administrative costs". In Portland's 11 urban renewal districts it is running around 15% of a district's cost. When you add this 15% with the 25 cents on each property tax dollar we pay to run PDC's 175 employees, we have very high administrative costs.

Why not let the voters pass general obligation bonds if they support a project, and eliminate the "middle man" of all these urban renewal agencies? City's have planning staff, and all the other departments to manage a project. Why duplicate???

Well, I know one counter argument-government would have a harder time directing projects to their favorite developers and consultants. And that may be a "maybe" too.

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