Letter: Which way on taxes, Mayor Smith?
To the Editor:
On Aug. 19 the Fraser Town Board voted to put a 1 percent sales tax increase measure on the November ballot. This measure, enthusiastically supported by Fraser Mayor Peggy Smith, would generate funds to support the Fraser/Winter Park bus system if passed.
However, on Wednesday, Sept. 16, the Fraser Board will consider a Tax Incentive Funding (TIF) plan submitted by Mr. Clark Lipscomb that benefits Grand Park at their Village and North Commercial projects. Mr. Lipscomb’s plan, also enthusiastically supported by Mayor Smith, would give potentially millions of dollars in reduced sewer/tap fees, property taxes, sales taxes, lodging taxes – basically any tax liability to Grand Park – for the next 15 years.
My question to Mayor Smith is this: How is it that Fraser has sufficient funding to give huge tax and fee breaks to a local developer while at the same time you are asking Fraser residents to approve increased sales taxes to fund the bus system?
The TIF plan supported by Mayor Smith would give complete control of the tax break money to Grand Park. The Fraser Board would be effectively shut out of the approval process regarding how and when the tax savings windfall to Grand Park would be spent to “attract business” to Fraser.
Further, the Town of Fraser Staff and Board would be required to “aggressively lead/support in Grand Park’s efforts” to acquire even more tax breaks from state and federal governments – adding unreimbursed work to an already overburdened Fraser town staff.
Finally, the proposed plan contains no analysis or specific details on what, if anything, the Town of Fraser would receive in return for this generous funding windfall if given to Grand Park.
Many financial challenges face Fraser now and in the coming years. Proposing a sales tax increase for local consumers while at the same time supporting a tax and fee giveaway to a developer does not seem logical, Mayor Smith.
What am I missing here? What does Fraser get out of the TIF proposal? If Fraser gives huge fee and tax breaks to a developer now, what precedent does this set for future negotiations with other developers and businesses?
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