Councilor Bennett says
there's no cost to the taxpayer when nothing is built. It's a huge benefit when something is....The argument here is that there's a basic mistake or omission in the dimension of time. Here's the Strong Towns critique (written by an civil engineer, by the way):
The 5 year tax abatement has no impact on anyone when you realize that no taxes will be collected if nothing is built. In five years the building goes on the tax roles. Recall it also is the first of three phases. In earlier work at another site this company promised 29 jobs and delivered over 40. This also is a major addition to the infrastructure serving our food processing industry and the jobs it will create and buildings it will build as a result of this project. [italics added]
the local unit of government benefits from the enhanced revenues associated with new growth. But it also typically assumes the long-term liability for maintaining the new infrastructure. This exchange — a near-term cash advantage for a long-term financial obligation — is one element of a Ponzi scheme.This is the nut of the matter.
The other is the realization that the revenue collected does not come near to covering the costs of maintaining the infrastructure. In America, we have a ticking time bomb of unfunded liability for infrastructure maintenance. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) estimates the cost at $5 trillion — but that's just for major infrastructure, not the minor streets, curbs, walks, and pipes that serve our homes.