City council support for the formation of a review committee, the first step in the Tax Increment Financing District to encourage development of the University North Park property, appears to be waning.

President Boren made his pitch for the TIF this past week and council members are expected to take action Tuesday night. We've endorsed formation of the review committee before in hopes of keeping the dialogue open.

The issue at hand is whether the council should establish a district where property and sales taxes, for a number of years, would be directed towards on-site and off-site infrastructure improvements. Mr. Boren thinks tax revenues of $100 million per year would be possible after the improvements have been paid for.

The 585-acre parcel bounded by Robinson Street and Tecumseh Road between the airport and Interstate 35 came into university hands a number of years ago after the naval base closed. In recent years, federal legislation removed development restrictions. The University's foundation purchased the property and now plans to partner with private groups in developing the parcel into an upscale retail, office, hotel and residential development. Similar ventures are done throughout the state, including recent ones in Midwest City, Sapulpa and Oklahoma City.

Council members are torn. No taxing entities now receive revenue from the land since it has not been on the tax rolls for more than 60 years. An upscale development would be desirable for the sales tax dollars that it would generate. But if the development comes at the expense of existing stores owned by private developers, then what have we gained?

We still believe that those questions and others can best be answered by forming a review committee. It does not obligate the council. That committee could look at how TIF districts have helped communities with jobs and tax revenues.

We'll reiterate our previous stance and urge the council members to vote for the formation of the committee. Why would any reasonable person vote something down before studying its potential pros and cons?

This Week's Circulars