Thursday, May 19, 2016

Kathie Tovo's long, strange, "affordable housing" trip....

"For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another."
Titus 3:3

This is...odd:
All city tax revenue from most properties that a government, nonprofit or religious organization sells to a private buyer in the future — meaning those parcels begin to generate property tax dollars — would go toward affordable housing under a proposal from Austin City Council Member Kathie Tovo.
So Councilmember Tovo's solution to Austin's housing cost related challenges is to divert general revenue into a dedicated account with a complicated funding formula?!?  We find our post-Prop. 1 vow to speak in an edifying manner towards all members of the council being challenged, as the phrase "political slush fund" does come to mind.  Suffice to say, Councilmember Tovo's 'affordable housing' proposal has many similarities to the way the state of Texas funds transportation.

At a minimum, maintaining city services under such a scenario might be difficult:
But city officials said that, in future years, Tovo’s proposal would mean a “significant” redirection of money from the city’s property tax-supported general fund that pays for city services such as parks, police and libraries. Without knowing what properties might be sold in the future, officials said they couldn’t give a specific estimate. 

Council Member Ellen Troxclair wondered out loud at Tuesday’s council work session about taking money away from other departments that provide city services that new developments require. 
“Those people are going to need city services, police response and water service, all the other things we use property taxes to provide,” Troxclair said. “So how do you argue for the loss of that revenue to other parts of the budget?”
Fortunately, Tovo had a well thought out answer to Troxclair's concerns:
Tovo said the council could choose in any year not to send the new property tax revenue to affordable housing and instead put that money toward other purposes.
So the solution to the funding challenges created by Councilmember Tovo's 'affordable housing' proposal is to ignore Councilmember Tovo's 'affordable housing' proposal!

Bottom Line: We commend Councilmember Tovo's good intentions but find her proposal excessively complicated and unlikely to achieve its stated objective.