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March 20 • 05:48 PM
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DDA’s captured money should be diverted back to the city


To the Editor:

I believe that the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) in Imlay City has overstayed its welcome. Our new brick sidewalks, antique-style lighting, bumpouts and landscaping have siphoned or diverted cash from general funds that would have gone to the city, county, schools, libraries and other agencies.

On Dec. 7, 2004, the Imlay City Commission unanimously voted to extend the DDA plan that was ending in 2005 for another ten years.

DDAs, as a means of "capturing taxes," started in the 1970s but were meant to be temporary as a way of reviving blighted downtowns and making them again attract businesses. Now downtowns, including Imlay City, are sheltered from funding standard services.

In Imlay City's DDA district the properties are frozen for purposes of determining taxes paid to the city, schools and any other government agency. As property values rise beyond that level the extra income is funneled (diverted) to the authority to pay for improvements only within the district.

Another issue I have with the DDA is that of advertising and marketing of a limited district. With an annual budget in the tens of thousands of dollars, which increases yearly as property taxes go up, I question the value of DDA money being spent on movie rentals, farmers markets, Christmas lights, logos, popcorn for Halloween, etc. Do these items really meet the goals or mission statement? We currently have the Chamber of Commerce, which is self-supported by the merchants, and encompasses the "whole" of Imlay City businesses—not just a selected area!

The current DDA is a "fact of life" and the people working are doing so within the guidelines, but the true solution is to eliminate the DDA and divert the money back to all of Imlay City.

Deanna Davis, Imlay City
November 25, 2009

Castle Creek
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