Well, this is interesting.
As the city of Houston seeks to close a $21 million budget gap in the next eight weeks, it is counting on selling a public building to one of its own redevelopment agencies.
And while the proposed $5 million deal with the Midtown Redevelopment Authority would offer the city deadline budget relief, it also could delay planned public improvements to the neighborhoods the authority serves along Main Street between downtown and the Texas Medical Center.
“Shifting it from one government entity to another is, to me, an accounting device that I’m uncomfortable with,” Councilwoman Anne Clutterbuck said Tuesday. Part of the tax increment reinvestment district the authority manages is in her District C. “To me, it’s not a real sale.”
While I understand CM Clutterbuck’s concerns, all I can say is that if that’s how she feels she should avert her eyes to what the Legislature is about to do. They use accounting gimmicks that would make a Hollywood executive blush.
Neither the authority nor the city’s chief redevelopment officer would explain the transfer of the property or what the plans are for what is now a city permitting building, though last week a city economic development official said he believes the authority will resell the property to a private developer.
A mayoral spokeswoman said plans would be outlined on Friday with the release of next week’s council agenda.
The redevelopment authority has its own budget, separate from that of City Hall, and its own board of directors that approves projects. That board unanimously approved the purchase of the city building last week.
This is clearly not what TIRZes normally do. If they’ve got a plan or a buyer, then I suppose it’s all right. But it does look funny and CMs Clutterbuck and Wanda Adams, who also has a piece of this TIRZ in her district, are right to ask questions about it. We’ll see what the Mayor and the TIRZ have in mind.