Unclear intentions

The Temple News questions the transparency of the NCNID bill.

Since the fall, The Temple News has covered the proposed North Central Neighborhood Improvement District. The district would undoubtedly benefit the area – with increased lighting, safety patrols and cleanliness – but its proponents’ lack of transparency throughout the process has left the public feeling uneasy, and for good reason.

Lifelong residents of the area near Main Campus have overtly rejected the bill at meetings for one main reason: They weren’t included in talks about changes for their own community. More community representation and more landlords – not those with just the Temple Area Property Association – should sit on the steering committee and management of the district.

Although Temple is set to give an annual financial contribution to the district, university officials have still not yet released an amount. At a time when tuition rates may rise because of further cuts in state appropriations, it’s unsettling for students to not know how much, and to where, university money is being spent. The source of the funding must also be made clear.

By excluding Yorktown – where, except for some exceptions, student housing is banned – those championing the NCNID are demonstrating that the bill is targeting students and their landlords. Although some students contribute to problems plaguing the area and its upkeep, TAPA and City Council President Darrell Clarke should realize many of the problems were there before students, too.

Moreover, Clarke and TAPA representatives need to include accountability measures in the bill before it’s approved. Property owners paying into the district have the right to know that additional tax dollars are being handled properly. The district must be transparent with the public in releasing specific line-item expenditures at any point during its existence.

As it’s outlined in the bill, administration for the district will receive $75,000 plus $5,000 for marketing, making it the second highest expenditure category – set to receive more funding than security and streetscape enhancements. It’s things like this that have us scratching our heads, and concluding that more transparency is needed if those spearheading the district hope to gain the blessing of the neighborhood they so desperately want to improve.

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