Monday, May 23, 2005

Fort Worth Legislator Holding Up TPC Tax District Bill

We told you a while back about the attempt by some San Antonio state lawmakers to give the developer of the TPC project property a tax giveaway on top of the sweet deal the developer had already gotten from the City of San Antonio (see post). That new sweetheart deal has hit a snag in the Texas House: a lawmaker from Fort Worth is holding up the bill and could kill it.

To recap: The developer, Lumbermen's Investment Corp. of Austin, negotiated a deal with the City of San Antonio, the PGA Tour and Marriott Hotels to build a TPC resort on land Lumbermen's owns in North San Antonio on top of the Edwards Aquifer (source of San Antonio's drinking water). In order to get stringent environmental controls into the project, the City of San Antonio gave Lumbermen's a huge tax break by agreeing not to annex the property for at least 29 years. The creation of a special taxing district, allowing Lumbermen's to levy and collect taxes on the property, was part of an earlier agreement. That facet was dropped from the final agreement (in favor of the non-annexation deal), although the creation of a special taxing district for the developer was not explicity forbidden.

So a month or so ago, members of San Antonio's state legislative team introduced a bill to give Lumbermen's that special taxing district after all. The developer gets not only the non-annexation deal, but would also get to collect taxes on the property.

The bill was sailing through without opposition. But now, Fort Worth lawmaker Lon Burnam says not so fast. From the San Antonio Express-News:

Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, raised a point of order on the bill based on
a technical error but temporarily withdrew it so he could meet today with the
bill's House sponsor, Rep. Robert Puente, D-San Antonio.

Burnam said his opposition stems from having development over the recharge zone for the Edwards Aquifer, the major source of water for 1.5 million San Antonio-area residents.

He said it was "not likely" he could be persuaded to change his mind. If he raises his objection again, the issue effectively is dead this session.

Runoff from fertilizers and other chemicals used on the golf course will pollute the water, Burnam and others say.

But Puente said it would have the "strictest environmental controls the state has ever had over development."

Rep. Puente is actually right about that - the negotiated environmental controls include a closed-loop irrigation system (runoff is captured and recycled before it can seep into the Aquifer) and the developer has to pay the San Antonio Water System to monitor chemicals on the site (among many other things). But that's not the point, at least not mine.

Mine, as I wrote in my earlier post, is that the additional creation of a special taxing district for the developer is simply going too far. Lumbermen's already has the non-annexation deal, meaning it won't have to pay city taxes for 29 years. That's enough of an inducement to build the project, and it was a necessary one to get the environmental controls built into the deal.

1 comment:

  1. And do we really need yet another resort course in SA?

    I doubt the revenues the city would see from such an enterprise would ever cover the costs they are willing to write off up front.


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