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May 7, 2014

Better to see TIF process

What do you do when even TIF doesn't bring about the economic development envisioned? Troy's solution is to hire a consultant to "maximize" its tax increment financing district along Interstate 55-70.

Meanwhile, on nearby Interstate 64, New Baden is using TIF dollars to help install the infrastructure for a Love's Travel Stop.

These communities are being transparent about how and how many dollars they are spending, which benefits taxpayers. They also seem eager to reassure the public that they are following the TIF rules. New Baden officials pointed out that their money is being used only for infrastructure improvements as the TIF law intended and not for construction.

In larger communities with multiple TIF districts, openness doesn't always exist. Leaders tend to bend and stretch the rules so they can use TIF however they want.

TIF has never been free money; it diverts property taxes that otherwise could pay for public services. So it's always preferable to see the mechanism for using TIF. Only with information can people make good judgments about how their tax money should be spent.

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