I have just returned from a finance meeting that involves the White Flint Sector Plan directly and the entire County indirectly today, but directly in the future. These meetings are due to the approved White Flint Sector Plan and the need to come up with a financing mechanism to pay for the transportation an infrastructure improvements needed to move this sector plan forward and accomplish the goals that were laid out over the past 3 1/2 years.
The three meetings I have attended so far, have been hosted by our County Executives office and involve the highest levels of finance, transportation, law, bonding issues, and administration on the County side and major property owners, developers, their attorneys, MNCPPC representatives that were directly involved in the sector plan, and citizens among others.
I am reporting on this because I was on the White Flint Sector Plan Citizens Advisory Group, appointed to the White Flint Sector Plan Steering Committee and I’m on the Board of Directors of this group (Friends of White Flint). To say I have been involved in the White Flint Sector Plan process is an understatement, with participation in well over 100 meetings in the past 3 1/2 years.
What I heard today is very disturbing………………If you will remember, a key component for financing the transportation and infrastructure improvements comes from a special tax on the commercial and retail property owners, which they have agreed to. These owners consistently stated that their financial models “DID NOT INCLUDE A SPECIAL TAX ON THE RESIDENTIAL PART OF ANY EXISTING OR FUTURE DEVELOPMENT.” It seems that everyone during the past three plus years kept that in their equation even when there was push back from the County Executives office which was not on board because they wanted to control the way the money was raised and leave all options open.
Today, the Executives office presented their DRAFT financing plan and guess what…??? They propose that everybody in the White Flint Sector Plan gets taxed at the same rate because it’s easier, less complicated legally, and that’s what THEY want to do.
When challenged about this, and the implied agreement we the citizens understood when the Sector Plan was unanimously approved, the answer was WE NEVER AGREED NOT TO TAX THE CURRENT OR FUTURE RESIDENTS OF WHITE FLINT.
To say I was shocked is an understatement. When others in the room concurred with me as to their understanding of the tax, and who it was to be applied to, it wasn’t received very warmly.
The developers agreed early on not to figure the residential components in any special tax and they some how managed to make their proformas work. Why can’t the County? We all understand this is an expensive proposition and it will not happen overnight.
I really feel betrayed that the Executives office is taking the easy way out by taxing everyone when the developers agreed not to include the residents in their projections. I believe we have a very short fuse burning to get this right, and if we don’t, we will not get the White Flint we worked so hard on.
Contact the White Flint Partnership (www.whiteflintpartnership.com), your citizens association or HOA leadership, the County Executives Office and ask them how can we make this work as it was proposed in the Sector Plan.
Do it now.