Handouts for Developers

Posted on March 07, 2005
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With over $500,000 in campaign money and the backing of many of Mesa's leading officials and developers, one would think that the City of Mesa's effort to develop Riverview at Dobson would be a foregone conclusion.

But not so fast!

The plucky Valley Business Owners and Concerned Citizens Inc., a group that in the past has used shoestring budgets to help defeat Mesa's city food tax, is on the watch.

The VBO objects to the $80 million in "incentives" that Mesa is offering to developers and businesses who relocate to Reverview. And for good reason.

As the Arizona Republic's Laurie Roberts reported,  "this deal was done in secret. In fact, secrecy is standard operating procedure for any city preparing to give away copious amounts of the public's cash to developers. In this case, the Mesa City Council held at least nine private meetings to hash out the deal. One council member said the sessions were so secret she couldn't even take papers out of the room. So secret, in fact, that the attorney general is investigating."

The Goldwater Institute has long championed fundamental corporate tax reform that lowers the tax rates on all businesses. Such reforms help create economic prosperity.

But targeted tax breaks and incentives aimed at attracting specific businesses to specific locations end up being little more than corporate welfare. With any luck, the VBO will once again succeed in its efforts to protect Mesa's citizens from unwise development policy.

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