Chuck GardnerLas Vegas Review-Journal
October 4, 1996
The areas to be added are scattered along Eastern/Civic
Center Drive, Martin Luther King, West Washington, and North Decatur.
There's only one problem. The city of Las Vegas
doesn't have a redevelopment plan.
What the city has is a map with the word "plan"
on its cover.
The only plan anywhere to be found is the plan
to funnel property taxes from these areas into the Redevelopment Agency.
The agency is a bit strapped right now, because it has given most of the
money it has collected in its decade of existence to the Wynns, the Binions,
the Gaughans, the Boyds, and the Snows for their casinos.
It's called "tax-increment financing." As soon
as an area is made part of the so-called "plan," increased taxes from
new assessments go to the redevelopment agency. It takes awhile, but after
a few years the money starts pouring in. This money, of course, is no
longer available to fund the usual services - schools, fire protection,
etc. - because it's now in the hands of the Redevelopment Agency
If there wasn't blight there before, there will
be now. Which is fine, so long as the agency has a plan to use the money
to develop the area. But it doesn't.
The law requires a redevelopment plan to show
the details of what the city plans to do. Then it requires the city to
hold public meetings so that the community can discuss the plans.
But there's nothing to discuss. The "City of
Las Vegas Redevelopment Plan" is an empty shell. Its only purpose is to
get the money.
After spending billions on new casinos on the
Strip and in New Jersey, Mississippi, and other points east, the wealthiest
people in this community who own some of the most valuable property in
the West come to the City Council and cry about all the competition hurting
their businesses downtown!
The city then takes the money that it has collected
from the poorest of the community and gives it to the richest.
It calls it "community redevelopment." Here's
the plan: First we draw a map and call it a "plan." That way, no one will
know what we're up to when we hold the public hearing. Second, we take
the money. Third, we give it to the rich and powefful. Finally, when we
run out, we expand the map.
The only time we hold public hearings to amend
the plan is when we want to add more land to get more money. When we want
to spend it, we just sign a contract with our friends.