To the editor:
What does the public know about tax increment financing? This subsidy is being labeled by the city as one of the "tools in our toolbox" to encourage economic development. It is vital that we have community awareness and participation in our policy development regarding its usage.
Next Tuesday, the City Commission will be deciding on the use of the TIF subsidy for the Oread Inn Hotel. To forfeit up to $11 million of tax revenue for this project without a sound city policy on this type of financing is irresponsible and unethical. This developer-driven process has lacked transparency and does not allow for adequate public participation.
This type of public investment requires a thorough cost-benefit analysis to help ensure that we will be gaining more than we are giving up. It is the duty of the City Commission to adhere to the needs of its citizens and NOT to the timeline constructed by the developers.
This Saturday the Lawrence Townsite Alliance is hosting a public forum at the Lawrence Public Library from 10 a.m. to noon. Whether your concerns are aesthetic or financial, the public is invited to attend and voice their opinion. The recent tension between the city and USD 497 over tax hikes should only highlight the need to examine the city's role in giving away tax revenue in the name of "economic development." Before voicing opposition to increased property taxes, look at the future city, county, and USD 497 revenues that will be diverted to private developments - without your vote.
Dacia McCabe Maher,