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Aleshire, Bunch and Lewis oppose creation of tax zone

Monday, December 20, 2021 by Jo Clifton

At their final meeting of the year beginning at 9 a.m. today, City Council will hold a public hearing and vote on creation of a tax increment reinvestment zone for the South Central Waterfront, including the former Austin American-Statesman site. The reason for the late-in-the-year meeting is that some members of Council and staff disagreed about inclusion of the block at the corner of Barton Springs Road and South First Street, known as the Snoopy PUD, also the former site of Hooters. Community activists Bill Bunch, Bill Aleshire and Fred Lewis have written to Council requesting that they simply vote “no” on the TIRZ. They said in a letter to the mayor and Council, “This proposed $278 million giveaway violates – and as a gross abuse of the Texas Tax Code – provisions for subsidizing development of blighted areas that would not otherwise develop on their own. The subject property is the most prime development land in the entire city of Austin. The bulk of it is owned by the self-professed ‘largest full-service commercial real estate company in central and South Texas,’ Endeavor Real Estate Group.” They also criticize Council and staff for holding the vote during the holidays, saying it “would not withstand public scrutiny. This is the antithesis of government accountability and transparency.” Council Member Kathie Tovo, whose district includes the proposed TIRZ area, has been anxious to get the ordinance passed to take advantage of the increased tax money that will flow into the TIRZ if passed before Dec. 31.

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