It’s funny, when you start digging around on the value of TIF’s the jury seems to agree, they have little economic impact. While I have found dozens of studies to prove this, the State of SD and the City of SF have yet to provide a study proving they work. We have been using them well over a decade. Shouldn’t we have data by now that they are effective? I can tell you why we don’t, because they know what the result of that study will be as this story points out;
â€œTax increment financing is not a silver bullet solution to development problems. There is no guarantee that the initial public investment will spur sufficient private investment, over time, that creates enough increment to pay back the bonds. Moreover, even if the investment succeeds on paper, it may do so by â€œcapturingâ€ growth that would have occurred even without the investment. Successful TIF districts can place an additional strain on existing public resources like schools and parks, whose funding is frozen at base valuation levels while growth in the district increases demand for their services.â€
First off, as I have pointed out several times, we don’t have a ‘development’ problem in Sioux Falls. With over 6 years of record building permits, not enough workers to build these developments, and our out of control property tax and rate increases, the only ‘development’ problem we are having is TOO much growth, TOO fast.
There is also little evidence that TIF regularly provides the job or private sector investment that its supporters promise. Chicago is one of the largest users of TIF for economic development and its program has been one of the most widely studied. Research on Chicago’s TIF program found that â€œOverall, TIF failed to produce the promise of jobs, business development or real estate activity at the neighborhood level beyond what would have occurred without TIF.â€
We saw this with the stupid initiative Mickelson cooked up that thankfully failed to increase tobacco taxes to fund trade education. If TIFs are supposed to help create jobs, why aren’t the developers who are receiving these TIFs helping to pay for the education and a living wage? You would think with the HUGE tax rebate they would be using that money to build a better educated workforce, instead they are only short-changing public education by sticking the money straight into their pockets.
If TIF is going to be used it should be used on things like public infrastructure â€“ roads, sewer/water lines, sidewalks â€“ rather than specific private businesses. This makes it harder to get distracted by non-pecuniary factors and does a better â€“ though not perfect â€“ job of directly helping development in general rather than a specific company or private developer. But taxpayers should be aware of the dangers of TIF and politicians and developers should not tout it as a panacea for jump-starting an area’s economy.
And with the Circus performers we have on our city council now, a TIFiliscious Revolution in Sioux Falls scares me even more. End the developer welfare programs. Eliminate TIFs, not only in Sioux Falls but the entire state.