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Pittsburgh Laurels & Lances

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Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, 8:58 p.m.
 

On the “Watch List”: The LTV redevelopment. A tax-increment-financing package of up to $90 million is being proposed to facilitate the nearly $1 billion redevelopment of the old LTV coke works in Hazelwood. In a twist that appears to protect taxpayers, the TIF would use a portion of the increased taxes the project is expected to create to underwrite not bonds but a loan from several foundations to pay for public infrastructure for which the development would create a demand at the blighted 178-acre site. If the project doesn't produce the required revenue or fails, the foundations would be on the hook. If that's the case, this TIF is worth careful study.

Laurel: To the Buncher Co. It initially sought a $50 million TIF package to redevelop 63 acres along the Allegheny River in the Strip District. Pittsburgh City Council balked. Not only was it a questionable use of tax-increment financing — the site is hardly “blighted” — the council was using approval of the TIF as a cudgel to get its own way. That Buncher now appears to believe it can fully assume the risk and make a handsome profit is encouraging and should be an object lesson for other developers.

Lance: To Pittsburgh Public Schools. Even in the face of a critical state audit, the district continues to invoke “personnel issues” to hide from public scrutiny why it paid former deputy superintendent Lynn Spampinato nearly a quarter of a million dollars to go bye-bye a few years back. Public schools. A public position. The public's money. And the public has no right to know? What arrogance.

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