by Max Brantley
Remember TIFs? The tax increment financing scheme by which Bruce Burrow and other powerful developers and bond daddies in rapidly growing cities hope to siphon off school tax dollars to build shopping centers?
The Fayetteville School District is at the center of a major test case on the issue of whether the state's required 25 mills of local property tax can be captured by a TIF district in that city and even whether school taxes can be diverted at all by the TIF amendment. I favor the interpretation that the TIF enabling amendment did not repeal, by implication, the part of the constitutiona protecting school taxes strictly for school uses.
The case was argued orally today. It's folly to draw any conclusions from court questions, but my observer thought questioning by a couple of justices indicated a lack of receptivity to turning the 25 base mills over to the developers. (This alone will kill many get-rich-quick TIF schemes.) One justice even noted that repeal by implication isn't a favored legal argument hereabouts.
Taking the base mills would harm the Supreme Court's recent efforts to require the legislature to make an adequate effort to support schools.