Taxpayers in Forth Worth are paying millions per year to lease parking spaces to provide free parking downtown, enabled by a TIF that is supposed to build infrastructure in a blighted area. Many are calling it a misuse of taxpayer money.
"Over the years, city leaders and merchants have credited the free parking program for downtown's booming redevelopment and its renewed role as a destination spot for people from all over the Metroplex. The perception among many is that the free parking program is a gift from the Basses and other garage owners, who forgo parking profits in order to build up downtown.
Well, not anymore. For more than a decade, downtown garage owners have been getting paid handsomely in property tax dollars from the city, the Fort Worth school district, and Tarrant County Hospital District, among others, for allowing the public to use their garages. This year alone, taxpayers will fork over more than $3.1 million to lease 2,830 parking spaces from the Basses and others, thereby subsidizing "free" parking for folks who come downtown for a few drinks, a fine meal, or a show at Bass Hall.
You might think city leaders had carefully calculated how many spaces would be needed each year and made leasing decisions on that basis - but you would be wrong. In fact, the money subsidizes far more than parking - and in some cases, pays for parking spaces that don't even exist yet."