by Max Brantley
Thanks to the Levy Project blog for items about reporting in The Times of North Little Rock on the poor state of facilities in the NLR School District. The Levy blog matches this report with news in the Democrat-Gazette today that Mayor Pat Hays is pushing for the formation of several tax increment finance districts downtown to steer 19 mills worth of property tax revenue, most of it from the needy school district, to wealthy developer. Make sense? Only in a city where the mayor is also talking about floating bonds -- borrowing money -- to finance electricity on the installment plan, building in hidden rate increases for years to come. And trying to give away millions to a sporting good store that will put others out of business. And proposing to spend millions to complicate one of the worst stretches of freeway in the state. And still searching for ways to pay for a naval scrapyard -- excuse me, Maritime Museum -- on the Arkansas River. With the bonanza of hidden taxes in electric rates about to come to an end, it hardly seems time to be giving away more of the store in corporate welfare payments.
It could be the Supreme Court must be asked to go all the way on TIFs and finally declare that the Arkansas Constitution means what it so clearly says. Taxes voted for schools may not be used for other purposes. ALL taxes voted for schools. Not just the 25 mills of mandated minimum support.