Free-market enthusiasts tend to sputter when asked to explain why, in a free market, their favorite business needs to suck at the public teat. Politics is not about stopping redistribution of wealth, its about deciding where you think the money should go.
From The Houston Chronicle:
The city is negotiating a deal with the developer of Washington Heights — a proposed Wal-Mart-anchored shopping center near Interstate 10 and Yale – that would reimburse the local builder for as much as $6 million in public infrastructure improvements.
If the agreement is approved, developer Ainbinder Co. would widen and repave streets surrounding the project, refurbish bridges near the site, develop a bike and pedestrian trail along a stretch of Heights Boulevard south of I-10 and improve underground drainage, among other upgrades.
The improvements are expected to ease traffic congestion as well as prime the area for other future developments, the developer said.
The deal being negotiated is part of a program authorized by the state called a 380 agreement. It allows the city to grant or loan local tax revenue for economic development purposes.
The Houston blogger at Off The Kuff takes exception to the plot.
Besides the nature of Wal-Mart itself, the 380 agreement is probably the least popular aspect of this, from what I’ve observed. It’s bad enough that a Wal-Mart is coming in, the sentiment is, it’s even worse that tax dollars will be used to help them. The city’s position is basically that the 380 is one of the few tools they have to get the developer to do something it wouldn’t otherwise do, which is to say make infrastructure improvements.
You know what? On principle, I’m not opposed to the use of tax dollars to foster economic development, when a business with a good idea that can legitimately help a community steps up, the public financing should be considered. What angers me is how people pretend that one person’s handout is another person’s investment.
Tools are neutral. Our intent in wielding the tool makes the difference.