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"Forget the Rest" blog


BernCo to consider tax district for Santolina; Commission mtg Tuesday (important!!)

Nov 14, 2016

(Am in Washington, DC now, trying to understand and make progress on nuclear -- and other issues if time allows -- amidst new realities here.)

Dear Albuquerque friends --

The article quoted below in full about Santolina caught my attention this morning. Very quickly --

In my opinion:

  • Santolina has the potential to destroy Albuquerque. ART is bad but not existential. Santolina is in a whole other league.
  • As this article notes, this proposed tax increment development district (TIDD) could extract "up to $500 M" from BernCo residents. This liability or some portion of it (with prior approval for more?) would begin more or less immediately, whether or not Santolina ever develops. Wouldn't a TIDD, once in place, put the County (i.e. us) over a barrel for subsequent planning and zoning approvals, transportion investments, and so on?
  • Of course, if Santolina were a good idea it would be bankable. There would be no need for a TIDD. The purpose of a TIDD is bypass bankers' due diligence and replace that with rolling over local rubes, some of whom are bought-and-paid-for. I mean, Santolina is owned by a huge bank. They could self-finance if they chose. But that would place their own precious capital at risk.
  • The political ramifications of this appear horrendous, on top of the fiscal impacts (the increased operational costs of this sprawl would be on top of the capital costs, on top of the resource impacts (e.g. water), on top of the other environmental impacts (e.g. transportation, congestion). Barclays Bank will have more power than we want over the future of Albuquerque.
  • There could be terrible impacts from this giant new development -- you can spell them out -- which will almost certainly fail to develop, but which will deliver a massive financial windfall to Barclays Bank if a TIDD is approved.

I see that the Bernalillo County Commission meeting starts at 4:30 pm tomorrow with the Finance Committee. The Commission meets at 5:00 pm. You can sign up to speak here.

I think the City Council was almost criminally delinquent in its responsibilities by not getting involved -- and finding a way to spike -- Santolina.

Meanwhile, Michelle Meaders has warned us that at 6 pm Tuesday, mas o minus the same time, there will be a showing at UNM of the (literally) meaningless anti-nuclear movie "Command and Control," according to advertising by NM PBS.

I saw this film here in DC in August, and learned then that a traveling road show around this film has been developed by some big foundations (who paid for it in the first place). It's agnostic about its main subject, nuclear weapons (and hence explicitly meaningless, as stated above). We know Schlosser and he writes very well, but in our view this is a slick propaganda movie, the exact point of which keep control of nuclear weapons discussion, guiding it into channels supportive of the nuclear weapons complex, US Empire, the labs (especially Sandia) and the status quo. And above all, to keep us all passive and going to movies, listening to the approved "experts," and so on. In this case, the goals include recruitment of UNM students for the State Department, CIA, and the labs. The tender sensibilities of these young people have to be guided in the "proper" channels. They need to learn to use the phrases like "nuclear dangers," which are the linguistic equivalents of malware, rather than more precise, and less morally ambiguous, phrases like "nuclear disarmament." Nuclear disarmament is not an interest of these funders (and so not a subject of this movie) unless it is shorn of its potential for social and foreign policy change, i.e. made compatible with Empire. Which it will never be.

So I hope you don't bother with "Command and Control," especially while the subject of destroying Albuquerque is being implicitly discussed a mile or two away.

In a bit of a panic over the TIDD meeting, trying to convey the seriousness of the situation, and now on to my work here,

BernCo to consider tax district for Santolina
By Dan McKay / Journal Staff Writer
Monday, November 14th, 2016 at 12:02am

The company behind the massive Santolina Master Plan could divert up to $500 million in future tax revenue under a plan headed to the Bernalillo County Commission on Tuesday.

Commissioners are set to consider approval of a financing tool known as “tax increment development districts.”

Supporters say the districts provide an incentive for developers to build streets, parks and public amenities quickly because they know they’ll be reimbursed by taxpayers. And getting the infrastructure built should make it easier to lure big companies considering a move to New Mexico, they say.

Opponents, meanwhile, say the districts are simply a subsidy for sprawl development – a way for the developer to be reimbursed with public money for work they would otherwise pay for themselves.

The proposal before commissioners Tuesday would allow Santolina to divert 45 percent of the new tax revenue generated there for about 50 years, or until the districts have generated $500 million for public infrastructure, whichever occurs first. The company initially had sought a 75 percent diversion, but agreed to the smaller amount.

Creation of the districts would have “substantial positive economic impacts,” according to a county staff report. That’s based on an economic analysis by Impact DataSource, an Austin-based firm.
I will have to send something to our Abq list.

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