Friday, May 22, 2009

It's been awhile...

Been away for a bit so I thought that I'd do some catching up. And I think a good place to start is some information on an upcoming Arizona Supreme Court decision on a public/private partnership issue taking place down in the Phoenix area.

More at this link...

The Arizona Supreme Court will consider the CityNorth incentive agreement case on June 1. The court will not actually hear the case that day. Instead, it will decide whether to accept the case for review.

The case could have major implications for cities and developers, who often make deals in which a certain amount of sales-tax collections is rebated to the developer as an incentive to build in that community.

Of course one of the major implications might be on a certain public infrastructure project talked about here in this community for many years now. Yep, talking Kingman Crossing basically. A couple of months back our city leaders indicated that because of this court case that the city and some interested developers would put off continuing discussions towards a public/private partnership to facilitate the development of a proposed traffic interchange in the area of Kingman Crossing.

I've blogged about this here and here for some background.

Earlier this month there was discussion on the ongoing issue that appeared on the Horizon PBS show with attorneys debating the CityNorth 'incentives'. Video below.

For what it is worth I posted an article written by Mr. Gammage on this blog back in September of last year and I have emailed back and forth on the Goldwater Institute's views on public/private partnership agreements for public infrastructure with Mr. Bolick over the last few months. I find both gentlemen extremely interesting and knowledgeable on these subjects.

Now I'm not trying to be an expert on the CityNorth deal or the court case being considered by the Arizona Supreme Court, but frankly I don't see similarities between any proposed public infrastructure improvement here in Kingman via a public/private partnership and the legal issues brought forth by the plaintiffs in the CityNorth ordeal.

If you watched the video above, please click on this link for the Horizon's produced video explaining the CityNorth case with one of the plaintiffs, Arizona State Senator Ken Cheuvront. (I couldn't find a video that could be embedded like the video above for this, sorry). As you watch both videos carefully you will get a better understanding about what the issues are... and really none of them have anything to do with true public infrastructure.

From the transcript from that video (I do suggest you view the entire video though) comes this FROM ONE OF THE PLAINTIFF'S...

Ken Cheuvront:
It is completely a fairness issue. If you are somebody who is competing with a retailer or restaurant in CityNorth and getting a tax advantage and you're not, it's really hard to compete, especially in this market. And to me when the cities are picking the losers and winners, that's just not right. As someone who's invested a lot of my own money in my companies I want to make sure that I have a level playing field, and if my competitor is giving special tax treatment or giveaways, that's going to put me at a disadvantage and probably my income is going to be affected by that.

David Majure: voice over
In the summer have you 2007 the city of Phoenix promised to cover the cost of 3,180 garage parking spaces at CityNorth. That includes 200 park-and-ride spaces for long-term use by the public free of charge. Phoenix agreed to make annual payments equal to half the amount of sales taxes it collects from stores at CityNorth. The payments would stop after 11 years or $97.4 million, whichever comes first. The city would start making those payments only after 1.2 million square feet of retail space is open for business. But that agreement is on hold. The Goldwater institute filed a lawsuit claiming it violates Arizona's constitution. Senator Ken Cheuvront signed on as a plaintiff. He says tax incentives make sense in some cases but not for retail development.

Ken Cheuvront:
If it is for the infrastructure, for building the roads, the sewers, you know, public amenities that would be built anyway, and going to be reimbursed for that, yes, I think that there is room for that. But if it's just to help that one business get a leg up at the expense of other businesses, no. I think that's unfair and it really is against the Arizona constitution.

Emphasis mine above.

I do hope that folks begin to see the difference as to what is being challenged and how it isn't even the same thing that has been only talked about here in our community.

The city of Phoenix promised the developer that it would pay the retail developer for the parking structure that would likely serve to benefit the developer more so than the public (that is the gist of the legal action the way I'm reading and following along). I'll leave that decision to the Supreme Court.

It is NOT the same as a new traffic interchange that offers the public here in Kingman greater convenience, safety, and perhaps increased economic opportunities that would directly benefit the community. The sort of thing that one of the plaintiff's in the CityNorth case alludes to as something there is room for.

Based on the very few facts that exist in the very loosely proposed public/private partnership attempt for a solution at Kingman Crossing the developer is not asking for an 'incentive' that would tilt the playing field for any other business. They would be asking for a 'reimbursement' for the the funding of a very public infrastructure project. That is it, there is nothing else on the table at this point (nothing official by all accounts).

It is time to start having this discussion again in this community... this time WITH the facts not the scare tactics of 'out of control' development or 'slaughterhouse' rhetoric. The city leaders insist that there is a need to emphasize economic development here in Kingman... and this issue has been staring at them for a long time. Time to do something about it.

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