Live blogging from May 9, 2009, worksession on implementation. Live streaming video is available at www.montgomeryplanningboard.org.
Jacob Sesker, Planning Coordinator, presents status of implementation. Notes that Attachment D has a prior law, and will update the law in a later session. Diane Schwartz Jones, Jennifer Barrett, and Ken Hartman BCC regional center, appeared to comment.
Three Staff recommendations: implementation authority, County Executive wants existing structures, and staff now agrees. Tax increment financing: strengthen recommendation now. In the absence of an implementation authority, having a TIF would have additional benefits. Special assessment/development district changes to avoid conflicts with state law. Purpose is to make the plan “implementable.”
County Exec has been meeting with staff and hired consultants to answer questions that Staff has asked. Issues: administration of sector Plan area; policy concerns of Exec; legal concerns on financing; and some questions on cost.
Administrative issues: no support for the implementation authority. Exec is concerned about redundancy, and existing structures would provide many of the things wanted to get out of separate structure. Redundancy. Changes include strengthening regional centers and redevelopment offices. In our discussions with the Executive Branch, we have come to see that a District, many of the things that WF needs, could be provided by the existing structures. In the absence of a parking lot district here, transfers from general fund or special taxes would be increasingly important.
Tax Increment Financing: hasn’t used in past and Exec doesn’t want to use it. Isolating areas of economic prosperity. Revenue generated in more successful areas should be available throughout the county. Jennifer Barrett: we want to benefit the entire county, as we have in Silver Spring and Bethesda. Cmsnr Robinson: so you’d rather not have $100 if you have to give up $10? Monies returned to General Fund greatly exceed uses here. Jones: that isn’t our position. Robinson: very important that we know what your position. Hanson: funding is essential for WF to develop as it should, and having the investments available to be timely made. Looking to see if there is interest in something like a “phantom TIF”? To just say no to a TIF doesn’t solve the problem. We need a reliable source of debt service for the public improvements that are necessary to make the redevelopment of WF occur. One way is to bond. Could have a WF CIP. For the $60-90 million “funding gap” we are considering.
Barrett: idea of saying that we’re making a choice now and everything else is set aside. Hanson: how is that different from any other CIP commitment we make? Barrett: TIF is absolutely going to district financing. Hanson: putting aside the TIF, what about a CIP PDF for White flint that sets out a schedule for expenditures? Robinson: we’re asking the private sector to lay out $250 million, and maybe we’ll fix Old Georgetown Rd, and maybe in five years we’ll do something else. What rational person would accept that? We have a very strict phasing in this Master Plan because of the amount of density. Development can’t proceed past a certain level without setting aside a funding mechanism. I’m assuming that rational business would be reluctant to set aside $250 million with decisions set forth several years in the future.