In mulling a response to the character attack lobbed at the Opt4Better activists launched by the Friends of Davenport Promise (Saturday, Quad City Times story), I took another look at the "inconsequential details" in the Upjohn Report. (I now realize that I may have spent more time reviewing that report than the task force did!)
In looking at the "benefits" to the City of Davenport, I realized the property tax revenue projected was a "gross " number. It did not take into account the ongoing expense related to providing city services to these new residents who buy new homes to take advantage of the Promise program.
These new residents surely are going to want police and fire protection. They will need their neighborhood streets maintained, and probably will expect a higher level of snow removal that what the rest of us have gotten use to. With more use, our major traffic arteries will also get more use, and require more maintenance. Our wonderful park systems and heavily used trails will surely get more action.
There are probably a dozen or more city services I am missing. The point is, that new development the Promise program will generate has some expense tied to it. Sure, it is money we didn't have before. But to call all of the revenue a benefit, without recognizing the expenses it also creates is a poor management practice.
These same expenses, and probably more, are attached to the commercial growth that The Promise promoters tout. To cover just the 10th year’s projected "shortfall" will require $140,000,000 in NEW commercially assessed property (the equivalent of adding 2½ NorthPark Malls) be added to the tax roles. This type of intense commercial development clearly creates additional expenses for the city.
I can hear the "naysayer against progress" comment again. No way should this be construed to be against growth. It just acknowledges that with growth comes increased demand for services that need to be recognized. Growth should pay for itself, and not result in an increased burden for all taxpayers.
Of course, not recognizing the costs associate with the benefit is just another oversight in the Upjohn Analysis. Like the other problems (inflation rate low, timing of tax payments, overestimate of benefits), it further acerbates the long term "shortfalls" related to the Promise Program. Of course, the Promise supporters consider these to be just "inconsequential details."
The closer I look, the more clear this isn’t about shifting 40% of a penny sales tax for economic development, it is saddling the taxpayers of Davenport with an entitlement program that will spend $40,000,000 in the first 10 years, and grow more expensive in the next 10.