Letter to the editor — November 28, 2011

Dear Editor,
Taking money from Peter to pay Paul may be OK, but Peter deserves some assurance that Paul is eventually going to repay the debt.
Sometimes government comes up with ideas that give the appearance of reasonable public gain. One such idea is the Neighborhood Revitalization Program tax abatement. Reasonable public gain means more taxable income will finally be realized by Allen County people, and we will be able to pay less taxes. After all, we are going to have to pay more now to take up the slack for the few that gain from abatement.
I can think of some logical reasons for abatement. 1) Housing that is energy efficient and decent for working families to live in. This could be accomplished with remodeling or new construction. And it could very likely bring some new residents to town. But there does have to be a value cap on the cost, something less than $150,000 for Allen County. Tax abatements for purchasers of housing built by the USD 257 or USD 258 building trades students seems reasonable. 2) Any commercial building in the county intended to produce long term jobs is also in the public interest, but if the jobs don’t happen, the tax abatement doesn’t happen.
But then comes number 3, and that is a question. Just how does the county justify taking $15,000 a year from Peter when there is no improved housing: no added jobs: no eventual payback? Paul is doing great, Peter has a problem.
The five-annual-$15,000 grants given to Paul is on some storage units. I don’t believe they are located in a “blighted” area. A blighted area in Iola may be a block where all houses are crumbling, most are deserted. Had the storage unit investors spent the money to clear the block and build their units in that block, then maybe, just maybe, we could consider that Peter received some marginal benefit. As it is, Peter just received another undeserved kick in the behind.

Ray Shannon,
Iola, Kan.

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