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TIDD for Tat: Last Chance for 'Greenfields' Bills

February 12, 2008

Santa Fe, NM - The New Mexico state legislature is to take up measures limiting development tax schemes which were supposed to help fight urban blight - but which critics say are instead enriching developers who contribute to urban sprawl.

Two bills before the lawmakers are meant to put the brakes on controversial tax-increment development districts, or TIDDs. A TIDD funnels certain tax revenues from a development back to developers for years after a project is completed.

Albuquerque city councilman Michael Cadigan has been fighting a TIDD on that city's outlying West Mesa area. He says TIDDs were invented to help clean up blighted urban areas, but that's not how they're being used in New Mexico.

"It was never intended to help subsidize urban-sprawl type development out on the far west mesa, and that's what we're getting."

Developers say TIDDs can be a valuable tool to bring new jobs and economic growth to the state. Cadigan says that won't help pay for new schools and other services which will be needed around the new developments.

Steve Fischmann is with the Quality Growth Alliance, which successfully fought a proposed TIDD in Las Cruces. He says communities should take a long, hard look at where their tax dollars will go under a TIDD.

"It's kind of like going from the taxpayers straight to a board controlled by a developer and it does that for twenty years, and once you've done it you're stuck."

Some TIDDs can collect revenue for as long as 25 years. A bill now in the House would add new restrictions to future TIDDs and another bill in the Senate calls for a moratorium on TIDDs in undeveloped areas.

Eric Mack/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - NM