Monday, September 9, 2013

Palladium-Item Argues Richmond at Crossroads for Economic Development

From the Richmond Palladium-Item:

On this much, we could hardly agree more with Danny Stamper, one of the investors in the proposed Eastside Commercial Park LLC: The Richmond Common Council needs to define how and when it will spend Economic Development Income Tax (EDIT) dollars — that is, who qualifies for those public dollars and for what intended purpose?

“If they don’t decide that,” Stamper said, “they’ll have this problem again and again.”

There are plus sides that have emerged as a result of the Richmond Common Council dismissing an ordinance that had asked the city to provide an added $375,000 in EDIT funds to build a road and lighting from National Road East south 1,100 feet into a planned shopping center near Interstate 70.
Mayor Sally Hutton had, unilaterally, previously committed $500,000 in taxpayer EDIT funds for the private development.

For the investors/developers, that plus side is that they can obtain the balance of the asked-for funds the old-fashioned way, by returning to the private sector in search of investment or loaned funds. The project is an exciting one and holds, by their own account, tremendous opportunities for return on investment. We hope it goes forward and believe that it can fulfill that promise.

And there is a plus side for shoppers and taxpayers in that, if the market wills it, they could yet be the beneficiaries of new retail outlets without essentially being forced to subsidize it by way of more of their tax dollars, after subtracting the half-million bucks the mayor already has doled out without much regard for either bad policy or worse precedent.

Now the common council, again, has the opportunity to do better than that.

It can and should heed the advice of Dan Stamper and, in fairness to taxpayers and to future developers, make clear what the terms and conditions are going to be for essentially getting a grant from taxpayers.

And in laying out those terms and conditions, it should ponder the wiser counsel of retired banker and civic leader Dave Stidham who, at the public hearing on this proposed project a few weeks ago, urged council to draw up separate guidelines for separate areas of incentive-based economic development and job creation.

See the full article here: