Have to say I told you so
It was interesting listening to Joe Gromacki Monday night.
Madison’s tax incremental financing coordinator spoke to the city’s Board of Estimates about Monroe Neighbors LLC’s ambitious plans in 2005 to repay $2.3 million the city would provide in TIF for the Monroe Commons development and how city staff cautioned the developers against being too optimistic.
He talked about the number of condominium units that were expected to become available in the subsequent months and years and how Monroe Neighbors expressed confidence that it could sell 80 percent in the first year.
And after board members listened to Monroe Neighbors principal David Keller ask the city for an extension on its TIF repayment plan and to increase assessed property values at Monroe Commons, Gromacki rather unceremoniously sighed, looked at the board members and deadpanned:
“I have to say I told you so.”
I never heard it said with such an absence of glee. Of course, as the eldest of two children growing up, I always reveled in saying it at a young age (and still do, of course).
But in the case of Madison and Monroe Neighbors now delinquent repayment (the developers are roughly $183,000 in the hole with another roughly $140,000 scheduled to be added in August), it’s not really time for gloating. If the developer can’t cover TIF payments, it comes out of the city’s general budget, meaning taxpayers are now covering Monroe Neighbors’ tardiness and waiting to be made whole.
Furthermore, as Gromacki pointed out Monday, if the city renegotiates the repayment plan or allows Monroe Neighbors to move away from its original agreement, it opens the door for other developers to try extending or renegotiating their deals. In an economy where a lot of development is slow and money is not flowing as openly as in years past, it’s certainly easy to imagine that scenario playing out.
Now the Board of Estimates want Gromacki, the city assessor and the city attorney to make formal recommendations on how best to get the money owed from Monroe Neighbors. When I asked Gromacki after the meeting what Madison should do, he quickly pointed out it’s not his decision to make.
“But if we can’t enforce guarantees,” he said, “then what?”
Perhaps another “I told you so.”