Originally published in the Autumn 2018 edition of the Virginia Defender, issue 58, printed November 8. Reproduced here for accessibility and archival purposes. To find other stories in the Autumn 2018 issue or to download the full PDF, see this post (pending). For the full web catalog, see our Full Issues page.
As a concerned resident of Richmond who has been monitoring the details of the Coliseum deal, I am strongly opposed to the initiative. Mayor Levar Stoney has been in negotiations for a deal involving the City to accept a bond from the Navy Hill District Corporation that would divert millions of dollars from the city general budget into the control of a private entity using a tax increment financing system (TIF) to pay for the development.
There are three categories of concern that I have about this: risks, biased PR campaign and the lack of transparency.
David Merriman is an economics professor mentioned in a Style article covering the issue who has studied the long-term consequences of economic development through TIF. Merriman has found that municipalities that adopt a TIF system actually experience slower economic development, which may place the city in the situation of not generating enough revenue to pay off the principle of the bond issued by private developers. This would jeopardize the city’s credit rating and could result in austerity measures and cuts to social programs.
Last week I also received a call from a California number conducting a survey regarding Richmond issues. The pollster asked misleading questions and told me at the end that the survey was funded by Navy Hill.
In addition, the Coliseum is currently unavailable for VCU’s spring graduation. We don’t know what’s going on, but if the building is unavailable due to a procurement agreement without input from the City Council, that would indicate a massive scandal.
Categories: Letters to the Editor