Letters to the Editor

Shrine must ante up

Using TIF funds in the new Shrine project amounts to a financial rape of the taxpayers. The numbers have been skewed to minimize the developer’s cash investment while providing the Shrine with a nice profit. Their projected expenses are inflated because they are leasing the ground from the Shrine. County property records show the Shrine does not pay any taxes on the site. Will the ground remain off the tax rolls since the Shrine is maintaining ownership?

All developments of this nature carry risk, but with the leasing arrangement the Shrine has no risk; only a guaranteed profit from a portion of the TIF funds. Since the taxpayers have already committed $2.3 million in sewer infrastructure costs, the obvious question the mayor and City Council should answer is: Why are the taxpayers now being asked to guarantee the Shrine and developer a profit?

The proposal needs to be restructured to have the Shrine become an active investor by furnishing the land. The 33 acres of prime commercial ground might appraise close to $1 million, which would reduce expenses by eliminating the leasing costs and reduce the cash needed to finance the project. The Shrine needs to take its profit from the project’s earnings and not from the taxpayer-funded TIF.

Permitting this project to go forward without the land incorporated it will happen if the mayor and the council don’t have the intelligence to understand how the taxpayers are being financially raped, or maybe they don’t want to know.

Larry Price

Belleville

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