Lakewood resident Steve Willson took offense at Lakewood Village President Erin Smith’s comments about the lack of knowledge of those criticizing Lakewood’s Tax Increment Financing in a Northwest Herald article Saturday.
My third objection: subsidizing a speculative project.
If there were ANY justification for a TIF district, it would be that a large, well-capitalized corporation was willing to put in a major project.
Even then, we’ve seen that idea fail over and over.
Witness Motorola in Harvard.
But, I repeat, IF there were ANY justification for a TIF district, it would require the recipient of the public’s largess to be a well-capitalized, investment grade corporation.
The SportsPlex is below investment grade, risky — speculative.
They are the opposite of well capitalized.
They have zero equity, none.
They plan to issue “junk” bonds to finance their project.
The two principals have a history of business failure.
And the business concept is that kids will fly in from all over the country and drive out to Lakewood for weekend sports tournaments.
Does this sound likely to anyone other than our Village Board?
And when I say, “No”, I mean in five years the principals have not been able to find any investors, even when they had federal subsidies, and no other local government has been willing to do business with them.
Other evidence also supports this skepticism.
First, the sports complex industry has a high record of failure.
Second, the population “pyramid” in this country has become a population “football”, by which I mean there are more people in their thirties than there are kids between the ages of zero and ten.
Every year fewer children are born.
And the participation rate of children in sports is declining.
So we know that this 23-year project is facing a market that will decline every year.
My apologies for such a long essay, but it is necessary to be thorough so that Erin Smith and the Board can’t ignore or mischaracterize the arguments and evidence I present.
So, in conclusion, I repeat:
Erin, quit making phony arguments in favor of the TIF and answer my explicit objections one by one.
Do it here, in print, on Cal’s blog.
Or admit you are wrong.
= = = = =
The Lakewood Village Board meets at RedTail Golf Club Tuesday
- at 6:45 for a budget hearing
- at 7 for a regular meeting, the most important item, seemingly, approval of the budget.
I’d link to the proposed budget, but I can’t find it online.