Too many negatives, too little upside to TIFs

The Gazette Opinion Staff
Published: March 24 2014 | 2:12 pm - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 10:06 am in

Your “The upside of TIFs” (March 15) needed what Paul Harvey used to call “the rest of the story.” No one I know argues there has never been any benefit from any tax increment financing deal, anywhere, at any time.

But that’s not the issue in a rational benefit-cost

analysis.

There are 10 to 20 categories of reasons why all TIFs are a bad idea (See http://fromdc2iowa.blogspot.com/2014/03/tifs-links-to-blog-essays.html). And I have yet to see any TIFs benefit that could begin to outweigh all of those categories of

disadvantages.

Here’s an example:

There would be “a benefit” to letting elementary school students simply roam freely throughout the community without parental supervision or need to attend school. They might better develop their natural curiosity and sense of self-reliance.

But the costs of that proposal — lack of student safety and education among them — would so heavily outweigh its potential benefit that no one seriously would propose it.

So it is with TIFs. An occasional “upside?” Of course. But hardly ever enough to outweigh the multiple

downsides.

Nicholas Johnson

Iowa City

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