At last Tuesday’s Council meeting, the Council supported an amendment to the City’s tax credit law allowing to waive the exclusion of undergraduate multifamily housing from eligibility when a revitalization tax credit has been approved in error, for a specific project only.
This amendment was made in relation to the tax credit awarded to the Gilbane Development in error, back in January 2020. You can read more about the background here on my blog.
Councilmember Kennedy, Dennis, Esters, Rigg and Day voted in support of the amendment. Councilmember Kabir, Mitchell, and Mackie voted in opposition.
Several residents wrote to the Council and spoke at the hearing about the proposed changes. The majority opposed the changes.
The issue before us was about changing a law because the law was applied in error. Personally, I felt it was not appropriate to make such a change. As I stated during my deliberation, the proposal was like changing our traffic law or our parking law because a police officer or a parking officer may apply the law in error. The appropriate way to address it is by apologizing for making the mistake, and not amending the traffic or the parking law. In the Gilbane case, the Mayor and the City Council apologized (in June 2020) once it found the credit was given in error.
The issue should not be compared with a case where a resident gets a credit “by law”, and the City later denies giving it to that resident. This is totally opposite to what happened last year in the Gilbane case, where the developer did not get the credit “by law”. The key is what the law says on whether someone should get a credit or not. It’s not about how the law is applied – correctly, or in error.
The City Council is scheduled to discuss the amount of tax credit it may decide to give Gilbane retroactively at next week’s Council worksession. The Council may give a tax credit of up to $571,000 to Gilbane over 5 years.