The Planning, Housing and Economic Development and Management and Fiscal Policy Committees of the Montgomery County Council will hold another joint hearing on White Flint infrastructure financing on Tuesday, November 9, at 9:30AM in the Council Building in Rockville. This is the second of three joint commitee hearings. At the first hearing, the Councilmembers were cautious.
The Council staff, as usual, has prepared a comprehensive package of background information for the Council. The staff is taking active positions on some controversial issues, including opposing Tax Increment Financing because it will be “unfair” to reserve all the money generated in White Flint for White Flint projects. This echoes the County Executive’s position on “flexibility,” meaning that he wants to be able to take all White Flint revenues for use in other parts of the County. The staff has ignored Councilmember Berliner’s proposal to establish a TIF.
In addition, in a brief passage, the staff notes that “We will reserve for discussion at the November 16 worksession limited policy issues, such as whether to exclude currently occupied apartment buildings from the proposed Special Taxing District.” This is the residents’ tax redux; the White Flint Plan contemplated taxing only future commercial development, not current residents. Many residents thought that they were already promised an exemption from the special taxes; that doesn’t seem to be the case any longer. Everything seems to be on the table.
The staff also recommended the triple taxation the developers say will doom the White Flint Plan, and a strategy of deferring major decisions so that the Council will not draft a specific financing plan before the January 1, 2011 deadline established in the White Flint phasing and staging requirements. Thus, the staff is recommending a combination of paralyzing new taxes and a moratorium on White Flint development in the near future.
The Council’s reaction to those recommendations should prove enlightening. Lots of excitement yet to come.