The Norman Transcript

Opinion

January 31, 2014

Incentives don’t often work

NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:

I want to fill in your readers on important discussion omitted from the article “IMMY coming to city’s TIF.” My reasons for opposing the incentive deal were not mentioned. Contrary to what was suggested, I did not offer growth-related arguments as an explanation of my vote.

I voted “no” on the proposed economic development incentive payment for a few simple reasons. First and foremost, the research tells us clearly that communities who offer incentives perform no better economically than those who do not.

Alan Peters and Peter Fisher (University of Iowa) explain in The Journal of the American Planning Association (vol. 70, No. 1), “The most fundamental problem is that many public officials appear to believe that they can influence the course of their state or local economies through incentives and subsidies to a degree far beyond anything supported by even the most optimistic evidence.”

If offering incentives anyway, a leading expert personally advised the council that we need strong, independent data that supports a return greater than the incentive.

In this case, the data before the council was neither independent nor compelling. In fact, numerous mathematical errors inflated revenues to the city.

For example, the NEDC report stated that 15 percent of new hires at the firm move to Norman for the job — yet 50 jobs created 10 new resident-workers.

For indirect jobs created, 10 percent move to Norman — yet 50 indirect jobs also created 10 new resident-workers. Another, 25 percent of these 20 new resident-workers build a new home — yet 20 new residents yield 10 new homes.

These miscalculations are then multiplied by family size, tax rates and other payments and accumulated over 10 years to arrive at supposed revenues to the city.

I just want to set the record straight. IMMY is here to stay, and I am proud that IMMY will remain in Norman. Whether our community should give $770,000 to the NEDC in the process is an entirely different question.

GREG JUNGMAN

Council Member, Ward 4, Norman

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