Resolution to add local elected officials for TDHCA scoring

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Don Zimmerman
Posts: 168
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2015 11:05 am

Resolution to add local elected officials for TDHCA scoring

Post by Don Zimmerman » Mon Feb 09, 2015 7:07 pm

BACKGROUND:

During our research of the money trail for subsidized housing projects and the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) scoring system for awarding federal subsidies, we discovered that the only elected officials who can affect scoring--both favorably and unfavorably--are State Representatives covering the property where the project is proposed to be located. Under current rules, if a state representative writes a letter of support for the project, +8 points are awarded; for no letter, 0 points, and for an opposition letter, -8 points. Letters from a local city council representative, county commissioner (i.e. outside city limits) or Municipal Utility Director have no such impact on scoring.

Another complication we discovered: in the case of the Cardinal Point housing project near 3M (2222 and River Place area), we found that the vast majority of constituents strongly opposed to the project are represented by State Rep. Paul Workman; however, the project property itself, on the other side of 2222 from River Place, is in State Rep. Donna Howard's District. Rep. Workman's office (which represents River Place constituents) correctly points out that they can't issue any letter regarding the project scoring. Rep. Howard's office could, but that office does not represent the River Place constituents.

This resolution calls for legislative change to allow additional elected representatives to affect scoring.

Don Zimmerman
District 6

RESOLUTION

WHEREAS, the location of subsidized housing is an issue of great importance to any community in which such housing is proposed to be located; and

WHEREAS, the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) is the State agency tasked with awarding Federal dollars from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to subsidize the construction of proposed low-income housing projects throughout Texas which the TDHCA deems meritorious of such an award; and

WHEREAS, in the scoring matrix used by TDHCA, and likewise as provided in State law, members of the Texas House of Representatives are the ONLY elected officials empowered to have a direct impact—both positively and negatively—upon the mathematical computation of points which the TDHCA uses to evaluate the merit of one proposed construction site being awarded a Federal grant versus another competing site; and

WHEREAS, members of City Councils around Texas, members of County Commissioners Courts around Texas, and members of the Boards of Directors of Municipal Utility Districts (MUDs) around Texas, are not accorded by State law, or by TDHCA internal policies, to have comparable direct impact—both favorably and unfavorably—upon construction projects of this type and this disparity is cause for concern to the Austin City Council; now, therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the City Council of the City of Austin, Texas does hereby urge the 84th Texas Legislature to enact legislation during this current 2015 Regular Session, which would add City Council Members, County Commissioners, and Board Members of MUDs, to the aforementioned Texas State law so that they, too, may have an impact in the awarding of such Federal funding.
Don Zimmerman
Council Member District 6 (northwest Austin)

Ann Kitchen
Posts: 148
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2015 4:04 pm

Re: Resolution to add local elected officials for TDHCA scor

Post by Ann Kitchen » Thu Feb 12, 2015 7:40 pm

CM Zimmerman

I'd like to understand this issue and thank you for bringing this forward. Can you point me to the section of the state law that would need to be changed?
Ann Kitchen
Council Member District 5

Don Zimmerman
Posts: 168
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2015 11:05 am

Re: Resolution to add local elected officials for TDHCA scor

Post by Don Zimmerman » Fri Feb 13, 2015 10:35 am

CM Kithcen:

Thanks for your inquiry.

We have posted the highlighted revision draft in the file below -- as we announced in our press conferece a few days ago, this was delivered to TDHCA Region 7 State Reps and State Senators on Monday.
As you see the changes are very simple -- they just add local elected officials to have similar scoring ability as a State Rep.

We've had conversations with lawmakers who say State Senators, who formerly affected scoring, asked to be removed from having that role; other political interests tried to get State Reps removed, but the State Reps kept their authority. Rep. Jason Isaac was heavily involved in this with some draft legislation two years ago.

Seeing that this is a politically contentious item, it would make sense for State Reps to want this decision making moved closer to the neighborhoods, and especially moved closer to where taxpayer dollars are being allocated - like at city council.

http://assets.austintexas.gov/austincou ... 102831.doc
Don Zimmerman
Council Member District 6 (northwest Austin)

Don Zimmerman
Posts: 168
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2015 11:05 am

Re: Resolution to add local elected officials for TDHCA scor

Post by Don Zimmerman » Fri Feb 13, 2015 6:23 pm

CM Kitchen:

Just realized I could have answered the question more concisely - our changes are to

Texas GOVERNMENT CODE

TITLE 10. GENERAL GOVERNMENT

SUBTITLE G. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS INVOLVING BOTH STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS

CHAPTER 2306. TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND COMMUNITY AFFAIRS
Don Zimmerman
Council Member District 6 (northwest Austin)

Don Zimmerman
Posts: 168
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2015 11:05 am

Re: Resolution to add local elected officials for TDHCA scor

Post by Don Zimmerman » Fri Feb 27, 2015 5:58 pm

UPDATE: Our proposed bill was submitted for drafting by the Legislative Council:

The draft number for the bill, 'Relating to the role of local government officials in the evaluation process used by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs to determine the approval or rejection of awards for the construction of proposed subsidized housing projects' is 84R 11602.

We will ask for filing as soon as the draft is completed.
Don Zimmerman
Council Member District 6 (northwest Austin)

Don Zimmerman
Posts: 168
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2015 11:05 am

Re: Resolution to add local elected officials for TDHCA scor

Post by Don Zimmerman » Mon Mar 16, 2015 1:32 pm

Copy of Press Release -- SB-1719 introduced by Senator Donna Campbell

AUSTIN—City Council Member Don Zimmerman (District 6, Northwest Austin) announced the introduction of Senate Bill 1719 by Texas State Senator Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) for the consideration of the 84th Texas Legislature. Campbell represents portions of the City of Austin in the Texas Senate. The bill, if enacted into state law, would allow individual City Council Members, individual County Commissioners, and members of the Board of Directors of Municipal Utility Districts (MUDs), within whose territory a proposed subsidized housing development has been proposed for construction, to impact—either favorably or unfavorably—the mathematical scoring process used by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) in that agency’s decision to award, or not award, a tax credit to the developers of such construction projects. Under current state law, only members of the Texas House of Representatives have the ability to impact—either positively or negatively—that scoring process. Zimmerman had requested that Campbell present the proposal in an effort to off-set what he described as a biased scoring system that automatically favors the awarding of such tax credits by the TDHCA.

“I investigated the TDHCA’s scoring process, I personally met with TDHCA staff, and arrived at the conclusion that the scoring process is rigged in favor of approving these tax credits” said Zimmerman. The tax credits that TDHCA offers are federal, but subsidized housing project developers seek millions in additional municipal subsidies to improve their chances of getting the lucrative federal tax credits. Such projects typically remove the housing from tax rolls, shifting a greater tax burden onto non-subsidized housing.

“The decision to build a subsidized housing project within a local community can have a major impact upon that community’s infrastructure. And with such a high-dollar commitment of local resources, it is important that the local City Council Member, or the local County Commissioner, or the local MUD Board Members—all of whom are closest to the constituents who reside near the proposed construction site—have more of a direct say in the future of their overall communities,” noted Zimmerman, who vigorously opposed the Austin City Council’s February approval of an $1.875 million municipal loan for the proposed “Cardinal Point” project to be located in the Four Points community of Northwest Austin.

The legislation proposed by Campbell, filed last week, awaits committee referral in the Texas Senate by Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick.
Don Zimmerman
Council Member District 6 (northwest Austin)

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