Judge Doyle Square is back in the news. The City is now weighing two different proposals from the same developer for the two downtown blocks. The Board of Estimates endorsed the more expensive of the proposals last night (April 11) and the Common Council will likely take a vote on April 19.
To the vocal dismay of Mayor Soglin, the school board has gotten involved, writing to the mayor and alders to urge that they select the less expensive of the remaining alternatives. Here’s the letter:
Why does the school district care? With the right decisions, Madison public schools could receive $12 million. It is worth ruffling a few feathers to advocate for those much-needed funds.
By now, most folks’ eyes glaze over at the mention of Judge Doyle Square. But it’s important, really! So gird yourself, plow through the following questions and answers, and you’ll emerge equipped to explain to the mayor and anyone else why $12 million for our schools is better than a $13 million subsidy for downtown luxury apartments.
Q. Let’s start with some background, and first deal with some of the acronyms. What’s TIF and TID?
A. TIF is tax-incremental financing. With a TIF project, a tax incremental district (TID) is created that encompasses an area targeted for improvement. The city makes public funds available to a developer who needs financing help for a project located in the TID. The city then freezes the current property value in the TID. Property owners in the TID pay property taxes levied by the school district, city, county and Madison College based on the current assessed value of their property, just like everyone else. But the only portion of those taxes that go the taxing jurisdictions is an amount equal to what the property taxes would be on the frozen property value. The amount paid above that frozen value – known as the increment – is devoted to paying off the public investments in the projects. Once the cumulative incremental property taxes have paid off the initial public investment, the TID can be dissolved and the increased property value in the TID can be restored to the tax rolls. Continue reading