Thursday, August 12, 2010

How urban renewal zones screw citizens and make developers rich

Salem's bizarre lust to blow half a million bucks trying to prop up an absurdly ill-conceived real estate venture is only partly explained by the tight, almost incestuous circle of friendships between city officials, the Chamber of Commerce/SEDCOR lobbies, and their real estate cronies.

The missing piece is the eternal question that echoes through City Halls all across America: "Where can we find taxpayer money to give to our friends without letting the taxpayers have a say in it, so we can make our friends happy while cutting basic services?"

Answer: urban renewal zones. The pot of gold that just keeps on giving -- if you're in the right circles -- while diverting money away from all the other taxing districts that depend on property taxes (schools, fire-fighters, county services, etc.). As Woody noted, some will rob you with a gun, others with a fountain pen.
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