Hassan says TIF a bait and switch
by Bob Grawey
Editor’s note: This is part two of a three-part series concerning the many issues that need to be addressed between Hassan and Rogers before the full merger takes place in 2012. Part one deals with uneven tax rates. Part two talks about TIF districts and their role in the merger talks. Part three is about services and those impacts on the merger.)
Before Hassan residents are annexed into Rogers in 2012, they want assurance that a likely tax hike will be phased in over six years.
But Rogers Mayor Jason Grimm says that if Rogers did agree to any tax rate phase-in for Hassan, it would likely not be for six years, but more along the line of a three-year phase-in.
But, aside from talk of a phase-in, Hassan is also upset over what some say are unkept promises by Rogers to alleviate the heavier tax burden for Hassan and Rogers residents through TIF districts that expire in 2011 and 2012.
Greg Peppin says Rogers told Hassan residents in 2008, 2009 and again in 2010 that the expiring TIF districts meant that the newly released tax revenue would be used to offset the rise in Hassan taxes when the full merger took place.
“Their financial director (Lisa Weiland) conceded that because of their budget, the TIFs aren’t going to do anything for us,” Peppin says. “They’ve openly admitted their five-year forecast has their tax rate at 41 percent going forward.”
Peppin adds that Rogers has indicated the funds from expiring TIFs have been re-allocated.
Mark Dobberstein says when he asked former Hassan Town Board Supervisor Lori Ende why the board agreed in 2008 to move the full annexation date up to 2012, he was told that it was the optimal time to complete the merger due to the expiring TIF districts in Rogers.
Things apparently changed, though.
“On three separate occasions, I’ve spoken with Lisa (Weiland) and asked her if TIF would or would not positively impact the property tax,” Dobberstein recalls. “Her answer was, ‘No, that’s all gone away.’”
In a recent joint meeting, Rogers officials said talk of using TIF funds for property tax relief changed because of planned new development that did not occur, according to Dobberstein.
Grimm has been on the Rogers council since the TIF districts were first created. He says any comment made about using TIF to defer Hassan residents’ property taxes was made when Rogers was “operating by the seat of its pants.”
He adds that the city’s new 10-year financial plan changes those earlier assumptions.
“That extra money is needed for capital improvements around the city,” Grimm contends.
Those capital improvements represent new police cars, fire trucks and updates on building needs, things Hassan residents say are not needed.