Mayor White Says City Needs to Share the TIRZ Wealth

Mayor Bill White leads a heated discussion on tax increment investment zones and how they benefit only portions of the city. He says they need to find a way for the whole city to share the wealth. Pat Hernandez has the story.

Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones keep a lot of the tax revenues within its
boundaries. But that means taxes generated above a set baseline are not
shared with the rest of the city. Mayor Bill White says that creates a situation
where some areas benefit over others.

“Right now, you have the areas with the highest property value of the city like
downtown and the Galleria area for example, who pay a much, much, much smaller
percentage of their property taxes for things like the salaries of police officers than do
other parts of the city.”

Council members like Pam Holm and Toni Lawrence defended TIRZs.

“I understand clearly what you’re saying in money is there is misused for the infrastructure.
I know that sometimes we don’t agree on this, but I think that there are opportunities in the
city our size, as large as we are, that we manage it. We put the criteria the city that we manage
and it gives us opportunity, really for more infrastructure.”

“You can always find different ways
to improve things like TIRZ, but they’re so much beneficial when businesses get together and
say ‘we want to fund these projects and, that’s kind of a simplification of TIRZ. I don’t see anything wrong even if the amount of money that they’re willing to put in because of their location,
exceeds some other pot of money. I think that only helps Houston in the long run.”

Mayor White says they need to find a way for the entire city to share revenue.

“I think this city council has cracked down on consulting fees as a percentage of the overall
TIRZ budget. We have more contributions to public safety in these TIRZ budgets. We have more
improvements that are bread and butter improvements that everybody wants. So, generally, I
think this city council wants more basics and less frills.”

White says soon almost half the money available for capital improvements within the city
under the general fund will be within the TIRZ.

Pat Hernandez. KUHF- Houston Public Radio News.