In a commentary published in print Sept. 14 and online Sept. 18, the virtues of the town of Scarborough giving the developers of the Scarborough Downs property what is misleadingly called a credit enhancement tax increment financing deal have been touted – $75 million over the next 30 years.

I’m not a resident of Scarborough, but I do know something about so-called CE TIFs. To begin with, the town should call it what it is: corporate welfare. Every other property taxpayer in the town will see their property taxes increase to subsidize/reduce this developer’s capital investment costs by $75 million. Nice work if you can get it.

Few, if any, other developers in the town, much less individual homeowners, who undertake to build and/or invest in Scarborough are eligible for similar (pro-rata) capital investment cost reductions. The unfairness of what is proposed is staggering. The fact that it’s spread over 30 years, called a public-private partnership and that some of the town’s costs can be shifted to neighboring towns doesn’t change the reality. It’s a one-off sweetheart deal benefiting a developer. The very rich get richer.

If the Scarborough Downs development is as great as it’s said to be, the developers can go into the private money market and get the financing they need – let them. It’s called the free market – it’s where other developers, builders and homeowners have to go to finance their projects.

In short, if The Downs project is as sure a thing as the developers say it is, the tax base of the town will grow without the need for a subsidy to the developer. If it’s not a sure thing, it’s certainly not the business of the town to shore up the developer with taxpayer dollars.

Orlando E. Delogu

Portland


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