Gilbert brownfield bill raises questions about lost state revenue

18119430 - construction site, excavator wearing metal pipe

LANSING — A plan to capture Michigan sales and income taxes to offset the costs of large development projects on contaminated sites likely would result in the state losing out on some new revenue.

On that point, supporters and critics of a sweetened incentive for so-called “brownfield” redevelopment projects agree. But while advocates — real estate developers, economic development agencies and some state lawmakers — contend that the state wouldn’t award one if the project didn’t yield more revenue than it gives away, questions remain unanswered about whether that revenue would actually be new.

In the week since it was introduced, a five-bill package in the Michigan Senate has elicited criticism about revenue losses to the state’s general fund budget and the wisdom of approving a tax incentive for billionaires — references to Detroit businessman and Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert, whose Rock Ventures LLC holding company is among the plan’s biggest proponents.

The state is “forgoing a portion of the new revenue,” said Matt Cullen, Rock Ventures’ principal, “but, conversely, if they weren’t foregoing it, they wouldn’t get the new revenue.”

That “but for” argument — as in, this project would not happen “but for” this incentive — is challenged by critics of tax-increment financing districts like these for what they say is inconclusive evidence that they work.

Even when a development is completed, it is difficult to determine whether captured tax revenue — in this case, income and sales taxes — is a direct result of the new building or the result of shifting money from Michigan residents that the state already collected when they lived someplace else, said Michael LaFaive, director of fiscal policy for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Midland.

“It’s very plausible, but the challenge is teasing out what is truly a function of the new development and what is captured regardless of it,” LaFaive said. “The ‘but for’ argument is really the standard operating procedure of those who are looking for special favors. That assertion cannot be disproven, and I think that’s one of the reasons why advocates use it so often.”

At issue in Michigan is a proposal to capture new sales and income tax revenue generated at completed developments from new shoppers and residents. The capture would be offered to developers who pursue what would be called “transformational brownfield projects,” or large development projects that require cleanup of environmental contaminants — such as lead or asbestos — or are blighted and obsolete properties.

Incentives are a touchy subject in Michigan. Many concerns about tax credits are rooted in the state’s struggle to fund competing budget priorities with limited general fund dollars. Cities have had to absorb cuts to state revenue sharing, which affects the amount of money available for local priorities. And former incentive programs have left the state on the hook for billions of dollars in payments.

The incentive would be offered in exchange for a minimum investment of private money into the project — at least $500 million in Detroit, less in smaller communities based on population.

The plan is supported by the Michigan Municipal League, chambers of commerce and cities across the state, including Sterling Heights, which is eyeing the enhanced brownfield incentive in the event owners of retail centers such as Lakeside Mall decide they want to update the properties.

Communities from Kalamazoo to Saginaw say they have pent-up demand for new housing or projects that could be ready to go if developers could line up the necessary financing.

Rock Ventures could be able to move on at least $2 billion in projects with the enhanced incentive, Cullen testified to a Senate committee, which unanimously approved the bills last week. They await a vote on the Senate floor, though the Senate isn’t scheduled to meet again until mid-October.

Cullen has not disclosed details about potential projects. But it’s possible that proposals to revamp the J.L. Hudson’s department store on Woodward Avenue and build a $1 billion Major League Soccer stadium and other developments on the site of the stalled Wayne County Consolidated Jail on Gratiot Avenue could be contenders.

Yet some suburban communities are cautious out of concern the legislation might tilt incentives in favor of urban development.

Leaders in Oakland County, just north of Wayne County, which includes Detroit, oppose the bills as written, though not necessarily in concept, in part for that reason. Under the legislation, projects that qualify for a transformational brownfield incentive would need to be mixed-use with residential and commercial elements. Matthew Gibb, a deputy Oakland County executive, recently proposed changes in a letter to Sen. Ken Horn, the Frankenmuth Republican who introduced the main bill in the package, to allow development that doesn’t contain mixed uses if the property is a single-use site with an “obsolete or inoperable arena, stadium or shopping center.”

That change would improve the redevelopment chances of the Pontiac Silverdome, former home of the Detroit Lions, and the shuttered Northland Center in Southfield and Summit Place mall in Waterford Township, Gibb said.

The Silverdome site will never support commercial and residential uses, Gibb told Bridge and Crain’s. He said the bill should offer enough flexibility for communities to define what “transformational” means — such as an auto research facility in place of a former stadium.

Captures elsewhere

Michigan would not be the first state to allow the capture of sales taxes in tax-increment financing districts. Sixteen states already allow sales tax to be an eligible revenue source in a tax-increment financing (TIF) district, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Columbus, Ohio-based Council of Development Finance Agencies, though it was unclear whether that capture applied to brownfield TIFs. In a 2015 report, the council wrote that sales tax captures mostly served “retail TIFs.”

A few states offer income tax incentives for brownfield projects, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Gilbert, Horn and regional economic development agencies across Michigan contend that the state doesn’t have enough financial tools to make large projects financially feasible or to help Michigan compete with other states that offer more generous incentives.

Gov. Rick Snyder, who eliminated many incentives in 2011 when he restructured the state’s tax code, has said he will consider the bills if they land on his desk.

Cullen said the idea isn’t to pad the pockets of billionaires; rather, the incentive is likely to get a project off the ground that otherwise would never have returned enough in revenue to offset the cost.

“This tool is not intended to take people to 15 to 20 percent (returns),” Cullen said.

Instead, he said, the incentive might take a project to a 7 percent to 8 percent return — and it assumes the developer is bearing all the risk on construction costs, how fast the property is leased and rental rates.

A bank won’t loan money to a project if income from rent doesn’t cover the annual interest and debt service payments, he said.

“If we want to do this next wave of projects, we can’t get the financing and the economic return isn’t there to even allow us to go forward with it,” Cullen said. “In this instance, we’re saying it’s not because we don’t have equity, it’s because the projects don’t work without a little bit of support.”

One noted observer of sports venues, which often today are coupled with mixed-use “stadium district” development, isn’t surprised that Gilbert and his allies are seeking a new blend of tax captures to subsidize projects.

“As sports team owners start getting more pushback to their subsidy demands, they’ve been searching farther and farther afield for ways to get public money to pay for their new venues,” said Neil deMause, a New York City-based journalist and co-author of a book, “Field of Schemes,” that takes a critical look at public funding for pro sports stadiums.

“Since TIFs and STIFs — sales-tax TIFs, like what Gilbert is seeking — have an aura of ‘new money we wouldn’t be getting otherwise,’ it’s often easier for stadium seekers to get approval of kickbacks of this kind of tax money than straight-up checks from the general fund,” deMause said.

At least one analysis of the legislation suggests a “likely significant” impact to Michigan’s general fund in the form of lost revenue, according to a recent report from the Senate Fiscal Agency. That could depend on how many projects are approved in one year, it wrote, and the method the state uses to determine whether sales tax revenue came from a particular development. The Michigan Department of Treasury doesn’t track the origin of sales tax revenue.

But the fiscal agency also suggested, based on its interpretation of the bill, that the tax captures would not be capped “other than equaling the sum of all costs permitted to be funded under the bills.” Its authors wrote that that “would effectively impose no limit on the amount of revenue captured,” and as such the capture could exceed $500 million on a Detroit project.

The legislation also does not include any clawback of incentive payments should the expected amount of private investment not happen, according to the agency.

Dan Austin, a senior account executive with Detroit-based Van Dyke Horn Public Relations who represents the coalition backing the proposal, said in an email the amount of tax revenue actually captured would be subject to need and the “overall benefit test,” meaning a developer couldn’t capture any more revenue than is necessary to make the project financially sound. That capture also must be financially positive for the state.

“The actual TIF reimbursement would be just a fraction of those expenses because it is subject to these caps,” Austin wrote. “In reality, the capture will be just enough to close the financial gap and make the project economically viable as determined by the state.”

LaFaive, of the Mackinac Center, said “it’s an open question” whether TIF districts work as advertised, and that it will be incumbent upon lawmakers to show that the incentive would not come at a net cost to taxpayers.
“It’s hard to tell until it happens, and even then, once it’s happened, the horse is out of the barn,” he said.

The conditions

If approved, the bills would require the municipality in which the brownfield project is located and the Michigan Strategic Fund, within the Michigan Economic Development Corp., to sign off on a developer’s plan before awarding an incentive. That review would include a financial analysis.

The tax captures would be used to pay for brownfield-eligible costs, such as building demolition, construction or restoration and other site work. A brownfield TIF could last for up to 30 years, Cullen said, though the capture is only intended to be in place for as long as needed to pay for the project.

The Michigan Strategic Fund could only approve five transformational brownfield projects in the state each year, and only one per community.

Under the incentive, up to 25 percent of residential income taxes paid by residents of the new development generally would be captured, though the amount could be expanded to half in some circumstances.

Horn said the intent of the legislation is to preserve funding for schools and other designated uses and capture a portion of tax revenue that is currently undedicated.

“The strategic fund, when they do the underwriting, they don’t approve it unless it’s demonstrated to be net financially beneficial to the state,” Cullen said. “The state would have to conclude that because of the project, they make more money tomorrow than they do today.”

Jeremy Hendges, deputy director of legislative affairs for the MEDC, said in a statement: “This is a legislative proposal that is being brought forward and we are still evaluating and analyzing the proposal. At this time, we are not able to provide an accurate assessment to the questions that were posed, as we are still evaluating the proposal and the potential impact.”

The bills include checks and balances with requirements that cities and the state both will have to vet — and approve — the brownfield plans, said Jennifer Rigterink, legislative associate for the Michigan Municipal League.

The league initially supported the bills “in concept,” but has now thrown its full support behind it after lawmakers lowered the minimum private investment limit for the smallest communities.

“Five projects a year is not many,” Rigterink said. “It’s another tool in the toolbox, and honestly, we’re glad to see the state have some skin in the game.”

Bill Shea contributed to this report.

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John Q. Public
Sun, 09/25/2016 - 12:44pm
"But for" capturing the school taxes, there would be no NHL hockey arena in Detroit. I'll bet nobody remembers all the "protections" built into the 2012 bill allowing that, when "protections" had been included before to prevent exactly that. That's because as soon as something else caught the public's attention, those protections were all stripped away. That's exactly what we'll get with this, too. Just remember: when evaluating these bills, do so with the "protections" all stripped away, because as sure as you're reading this, they will be. Only five per year? That'll last until a sixth one comes along. Investment thresholds? Good until someone with a smaller project comes begging. Thirty-year limit on TIF? Yeah, right. The Brownfield Act is twenty years old, so look for that "protection" to be stripped within the next ten years. "Transformational"? That will mean whatever a city and/or the legislature says it means.
Kevin Grand
Sun, 09/25/2016 - 7:04pm
Dan Gilbert is a big boy. If he wants to gamble with his own money on Detroit, then all of the power to him. The problem with what our non-representing "representatives" in Lansing are proposing (and at Mr. Gilbert's lobbying, no less), is that they do not have the authority under the Michigan Constitution to take from the general fund and give to a well-to-do businessman, regardless of the justification.
Le Roy G. Barnett
Mon, 09/26/2016 - 7:53am
In this story, Matt Cullen is quoted as saying the five-bill proposal is for those projects that need "a little bit of support." If these measures are passed, I predict the taxpayers of Michigan will be astounded at what constitutes "a little bit."
Mon, 09/26/2016 - 8:10am
Many Americans know that the United States is not a democracy but a "corporatocracy," in which we are ruled by a partnership of giant corporations, the extremely wealthy elite, and corporate-collaborator government officials. Too many of us have become pacified by corporatocracy-created institutions and culture. The citizens have allowed it. We are preparing the way for another King George. In other words, citizens have not suffered enough to take matters into their own hands and clean house. After all, the Constitution of the United States is only a contract between the employer (us) and the employee (elected or appointed government employee) that directs the employees to do the jobs we would otherwise have to do ourselves. Having experienced a world ruled by a King George, the founders of this country put in the contract (the Constitution of the United States) a way for the employers to nullify the oppression of the employees. They called it the twelve man jury, or in other words jury nullification. Otherwise, the oppression would cause another revolution.
Mon, 09/26/2016 - 8:10am
Many Americans know that the United States is not a democracy but a "corporatocracy," in which we are ruled by a partnership of giant corporations, the extremely wealthy elite, and corporate-collaborator government officials. Too many of us have become pacified by corporatocracy-created institutions and culture. The citizens have allowed it. We are preparing the way for another King George. In other words, citizens have not suffered enough to take matters into their own hands and clean house. After all, the Constitution of the United States is only a contract between the employer (us) and the employee (elected or appointed government employee) that directs the employees to do the jobs we would otherwise have to do ourselves. Having experienced a world ruled by a King George, the founders of this country put in the contract (the Constitution of the United States) a way for the employers to nullify the oppression of the employees. They called it the twelve man jury, or in other words jury nullification. Otherwise, the oppression would cause another revolution.
Mon, 09/26/2016 - 8:53am
The best legislature and governor money can buy.
Mike Bauer
Mon, 09/26/2016 - 9:08am
It is easy to understand both sides of the argument. However it seems we need some clarification. The State of Michigan isn't giving the developer(s) any money. No money from any source will be given to the developers. I don't know why the myths )or are they falsehoods) continue to come up but the State is not giving the developer money. What the developers want is a promise of a reduced tax rate if they invest their money in redevelopment, a way to add to the return on investment (ROI) of a project. The developers are taking on the risk and they hope to receive an improved return and mitigate some risks. The State will then see reduced tax revenue, but not a transfer of cash. What could go wrong? Well two things, one the development is a failure and everyone loses. Two, the development is a success but the tax deferrals result in tax revenue that cause the State and municipalities to subsidize the services the development receives. Road, police, fire, etc are services a development requires and if the tax revenue doesn't at least cover those expenses the various entities are subsiding a private development. There should be a formula that can be used that accurately predicts the cost of services and the tax collected should cover those costs. There may still be a tax deferment but no subsidy. I ideally there is an increase and we can determine that by looking at current tax receipts, etc and comparing them to future tax receipts to see what, if any, ROI the State receives.
Mon, 09/26/2016 - 9:30am
They're giving developers money in the sense that 1) they can rework their financial models with additional profit output, and 2) new large developments would be more profitable for existing projects that missed out on the tax benefits.
Mike Bauer
Mon, 09/26/2016 - 10:49am
Eric, i understand that but I disagree with your wording. They are deferring possible tax collections, not giving them money. For example if you deduct your mortgage interest on your Federal tax (which is done to encourage home building, realtors, etc) they are not "giving you money" they are deferring tax revenue. It is a subsidy in that sense, as is this proposed legislation. My main concern is not recovering sufficient tax to cover expenses that will be incurred. They will want roads maintained, police and fire protection, etc. If their plan works the road maintenance, services, etc will all be increased. I don't agree with that, at a minimum it should cover the costs however if the rest of the deferment helps build the tax base it is an investment. I do want to make sure that we actually track this to really see if there is a true benefit to these tax breaks for the State and municipalities.
Mon, 09/26/2016 - 12:01pm
A reduced tax liability is an increase in equity/assets
Mon, 09/26/2016 - 12:00pm
A reduced tax liability is an increase in equity/assets
John Q.
Tue, 09/27/2016 - 8:50am
Mike Bauer, that's pure semantics. If Dan Gilbert gets a 50% reduction in the taxes that he has to pay, the effect on the bottom line is the same to the local government as if they had cut him a check for a 50% refund on the taxes he paid. You're arguing over accounting standards, not public policy.
Kevin Grand
Mon, 09/26/2016 - 11:15am
What could go wrong, Mr. Bauer? First off, these programs have chronically been over-promising and under-delivering for some time now. Think movie studios along with battery development and the ROI Michigan has seen from those. Second, to make a realistic budget, you need to know what you are bringing in, so that you can know what to spend. I realize that Lansing has been asleep at the wheel for far too long regarding this, but work with me here. We are already on the hook for nearly $10-billion in tax credits that were previously awarded through the MEDC. I'm going to go out on a limb here and bet you that there isn't one person on The Bridge's writing staff who couldn't tell you of something that is in need of more funding (i.e. schools, cities, roads, etc.). Exactly how do you balance their arguments in favor of those issues, given the past failure of these incentive programs and coupled with what we currently "owe" businesses? Third, is the plain and simple matter of tax fairness. Back in 2007, when we saw the most recent bipartisan support for raising Michigan Income Tax (again), it was under the agreement that it would be reduced to where it was before the agreement took place: 3.9%. When it came time to honor that agreement, Gov. Snyder and the republicans in Lansing essentially told us all where to go and reneged on that promise. It's insulting to Michigan Taxpayers that lawmakers can suddenly "find" a way to patch a hole in their budgets to pay for these latest incentives, yet can still look us in the eye and tell us that the money isn't there on an income tax rollback.
Mon, 09/26/2016 - 2:16pm
Exactly right! So... While I understand the concept of public assistance to facilitate the redevelopment brownfield sites, a far more environmentally friendly practice than building at a "virgin" site, why does the tax incentive have to be 100%? Why can't Bedrock get a percentage off of their sales and property tax? Or, at least make the taxpayers a partner in the development, proportional to the benefit that the project is expected to provide to the developer. It should be the same way with Little Caesars Arena. The taxpayers should be a percentage owner, and therefore receive that percentage of the revenue. In a sense, we, the taxpayers, would become venture capitalists. I find this concept far more appealing than just giving money to the developers for their own benefit.
John Q. Public
Mon, 09/26/2016 - 6:36pm
William Plumpe
Mon, 09/26/2016 - 9:08am
No matter what Libertarian leaning anti-tax incentive comments may propound tax incentives if properly applied in a well managed development program can provide the right degree of incentive to encourage development and show good faith on the part of the State and the local municipality. Not all tax incentives are good tax incentives but some are. And it could be argued that giving tax incentives to people who are already wealthy and successful is a good idea because the recipient already has a proven track record and the backing to help ensure that the project is successful. Tax incentives won't work in every situation but if used carefully can provide the extra motivation to a developer so they feel more comfortable taking on the risk of development in an emerging yet uncertain urban market. Of course the State and local municipality should expect and require ongoing monitoring of the project from start to finish with tax incentives being used to reward the developer for meeting time deadlines and spending limits. And since public tax money is involved the progress of the development project should be as open and transparent as possible with a continuing and commanding presence of public/voter/taxpayer oversight. Tax incentives can be very useful but must be used cautiously and carefully with maximum oversight allowed.
John Q. Public
Mon, 09/26/2016 - 7:53pm
If developers aren't "comfortable" taking on the risk in uncertain developing markets, they should do what developers have always done in those cases: take a pass on the project. It's just flabbergasting the number of ways there are to justify rent-seeking by the wealthy. Of course the State and local municipality should expect and require ongoing monitoring of the project from start to finish with tax incentives being used to reward the developer for meeting time deadlines and spending limits. And yet, they never do. And since public tax money is involved the progress of the development project should be as open and transparent as possible with a continuing and commanding presence of public/voter/taxpayer oversight. And yet, they never are. Tax incentives can be very useful but must be used cautiously and carefully with maximum oversight allowed. Well, you know...they aren't.
Mon, 09/26/2016 - 9:24am
Suppose the legislature approves the proposed bills that, their advocates argue, will promote economic growth in the selected cities. What demands are placed upon the developer to fulfill promises about expenditures and the hiring of local residents to do the construction? When will the tax incentive expire or are they perpetual? And are the tax incentives transferable to another developer who may wish to do something very different with the land or flip it for a profit? How are these bills articulated with either or both of the CBA proposals that are on the Detroit ballot on November 8? Thanks
Mon, 09/26/2016 - 9:29am
Nothing but another public money grab wrapped in the lie that somehow large projects are less financially feasible than small projects, nothing could be further from the truth.
Mon, 09/26/2016 - 9:59am
Lessening tax collections will not lessen the appetite for tax dollars in each governmental entity in which these brownfield projects are located. And who will get stuck paying for the extra police, firemen, and all other services used? Of course it will be us, Mr. John Q. Taxpayer, the little guy with no lobbyist and no representative in his pocket. Each developer needs to learn to look at brownfield remediation as just a cost of construction. Mr. John Q. Taxpayer is done shelling out money for someone else to get rich from with nothing in return!
Mon, 09/26/2016 - 1:19pm
I wonder how much the sponsors of this legislation believe in what it will deliver. Are they willing to hold the laws accountable for what they are claiming? Why don’t they include in the legislation a performance requirement? Allow the first project receive the tax abatement, but stop all future projects until the ‘but for’ taxes are received. In this case if Dan Gilbert’s Rock Venture LLC has to pick its best project and then wait on the others until that project delivers the projected tax revenues. Let those with all the great project ideas compete while limiting the risk to taxpayer.
Mon, 09/26/2016 - 7:04pm
Geez - lets cut to the chase people. This is a last chance effort for big business and Republicans to take more tax money from ordinary citizens to line their own pockets and selfishly plunder the Michigan states revenue streams already weakened by Snyder and his Republicans tribe. Their next big gift to business and take away from the Michigan Citizenry. Reason 1: The economy is soon doomed to crash as it did in 2008. Why? Every intelligent respected responsible financial advisor has told his clients to get out of the stock market - to go to cash. Why? The same conditions exist that caused 2008. Excessive credit, lowered GDP, and Central Bankers who haven't a clue on how to force savers to spend money. Well except for their considered negative interest rates - which will further reduce spending but increase massive home installed safes as it did in Japan. Stupid selfish actions follow stupid selfish logic. Reason 2: Big business and Republican government are fearful as they see a big change coming as a result of the November elections when Democrats will take over much of the state and national congresses so if they don't get it now they won't in the next 12 to 15 years during the U.S. and the worlds worst and longest financial recovery period. That's why the Republicans tried to enact a new law to void straight ticket voting in Michigan but reasonably it was shot down by the state supreme court. Shame on you Mr. state attorney general - and Snyder. See through the smoke and mirrors people. You are being conned once more. However there is a simple fix to this money grab - just have the citizens vote on it. A simple up or down vote. How much more democratic could it be than a citizen vote? Do you want to give up $50 million or more in state tax money or have it in the state revenue to fix roads, fund schools, fund local municipalities police and firefighter needs? Snyder and his republican cronies have plundered the states tax money to give to the rich businesses while taking it away from the necessary repairs to the states infrastructure and local government needs. Voters - Stop listening to the illogical gibberish - see through the smoke and mirrors and contorted logic being foisted upon Michigan taxpayers once more. Most of all get off your dead ass and vote in November! If you don't - you will get what you deserve and things won't change but get worse.
Mon, 09/26/2016 - 8:01pm
Zeke, If you want to get it right about the economy and why it is bad and how to keep it from getting worse, then you must include the regulators and how their actions crashed the economy and how they could do it again. The one cause that politicians fail to mention was Financial Accounting Standards Board 157, which required investments be marked [list on their balance sheets] to market price. The problem was that many banks to ensure long-term capital stability invested in assets that did not pay a return for decades and thus had no current market price. In effect it require the banks to mark those assets at near zero effectively destroying their credit worthiness [not even the government would loan them needed capital, see Lehman Brothers]. FASB 157 went into effect in 2007 and had such a destructive impact on the financial community it was suspended the fall of 2009. The stock market was near its peak [October 2007] when FASB 157 went into effect [November 15, 2007] and near its bottom [March 2009] when it was suspended [April 2, 2009]. If anyone has doubts about the potential impact of regulations, FASB 157 is a clear and very painful example of how devastating regulations can be. Not only did it crash the market, it so disrupted the banking system that the Federal Bank is still forcing interest rates so low that savers are not get any interest on their money in banks, pension funds are not getting interest payments that they rely on to fund annual payments to pensioners. If you want an up or down vote then make it the accountability of government agencies, particularly the regulators.
Tue, 09/27/2016 - 2:28am
Duane, What needs to be said is that regulators are backed by and controlled by Republicans who are controlled and backed by Big Business. Take a look at the Business Coalition members noted above supporting the use of tax Payer monies selfishly instead of using tax payer money for repairing roads, improving schools, increasing municipalities ability to pay for adequate numbers of police and firefighters. Next Bush and Cheney's Republican regime changed the banking laws from the regulation that required a 12 to 1 ratio of cash to loans to a new regulation allowing a 30 to 1 ratio and never policed abuses of that engorged ratio. Thence banks and large financial institutions took enormous risks that caused the economy to eventually crash when home values plummeted. Then the American Public had to bail out the selfish financial risk takers. Then the Republicans repealed a law enacted after the crash that the public would never again bail out financial instructions that fail. So once again taxpayers are once more responsible to bail out bad financial institutions thanks to the Republicans and the people that control them. Duane - I think we agree that we taxpayers were taken advantage then and Lansing with big business clearly intends to do that to us again here in Michigan. They wish to impose an unfair action that will greatly harm Michigan taxpayers and Michigan Communities for their own selfish improper gains.
Wed, 09/28/2016 - 12:10am
The reality is that all regulators have one common purpose when they start writing a regulation, enforcement. They only know command and control [enforcement], the politicians that write the laws that provide the regulators work only want one thing, command and control. The command and control regulation set how things were done when a regulation went into effect and it doesn't allow change without a long drawn out process. The most effective businesses are those that design their system for performance, better products, at lower cost. Performance protocols are designed to encourage change/improvement. Which do you think is better for our communities, rules that were set based on how things were done years/decades ago or rules that are designed to encourage and support improvement? I have not seen where regulators are dominated by businesses.
Sun, 10/02/2016 - 4:58am
Dear Duane - I am coming to the conclusion that you are part of the smoke and mirrors conspirators trying to confuse a relatively apparent effort by those who don't really care about the health and financial welfare of Michigan's citizens. In short the billionaires win and the risk is borne by John Q. Public who always lose because of slanted lobbying by those businesses and politicains who want to win at all costs. Show me where there is a large penalty that was truly enacted by these regulators you find so faultless. Either they won't because they succumb to political / business pressure or the rules are later amended by politicians / business to avoid any penalty. So once again - unless we vote out in November the Republican minions of Snyder who have demonstrated time after time that they support who they want to or are forced to which are big business and not the hard working tax paying citizens of Michigan. Citizens you must get out and Vote in November to change this vicious cycle caused by prior mindless media brainwashed voters.
John S.
Mon, 09/26/2016 - 7:45pm
The pro TIF argument seems to assume that markets for brownfields are inefficient. Wouldn't the sales prices of land needing remediation reflect that fact? Politicians like TIFs because they involve subsidies to businesses that are opaque. An alternative, direct, and transparent approach is to use general revenues for remediation. After remediation, the land can be sold at auction. Perhaps there's also risk that under lobbying pressure and administrative discretion the definition of brownfield will be broadened so much as to be essentially meaningless. There would appear to be need for more work on this legislation to protect the public interest.
John Q. Public
Mon, 09/26/2016 - 8:00pm
Perhaps there’s also risk that under lobbying pressure and administrative discretion the definition of brownfield will be broadened so much as to be essentially meaningless. That ship has sailed. These bills are just increasing the size of the armada.
Sun, 10/02/2016 - 2:33am
Any sane taxpayer should be up in arms and voting to remove from office any politician that favors Downtown Development Authorities, Brownfield Redevelopment Authorities, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation because it allows the entities that receive TIF to receive governmental services while transferring the costs for same upon other taxpayers. The rational of an increasing tax revenue brought about by TIF financed improvements to property have never materialized. It is all a hoax. Just vote all incumbents out of office and replace them with new elected officials who will terminate such programs. If the newly elected don't act, then replace them at the next election cycle. In other words, throw the bums out.
John Saari
Sun, 10/02/2016 - 7:08am
User fees, licenses, permits, etc should be used to pay for some government functions. Stadiums should be paying each of the governments that they are in, A License Fee. Think Community. The Federal and State goverments should pass down to communities(cities) all services, HEW, Recreation, Parks, Post office and IRS. Communities can do it more efficiently and honestly.