LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Two members of the newly formed West End Opportunity Partnership have resigned.
Louisville Urban League President and CEO Sadiqa Reynolds and the league’s Director of Investment Christina Shadle resigned over the weekend.
The Board was formed earlier this year to help revitalize west Louisville by investing in economic development projects through a special taxing district called a TIF.
TIFs, which stands for tax increment financing, are an economic development tool cities use to spur new business growth.
Once a TIF district is created, taxes collected in the TIF district get split in two.
One part continues paying for city and state public services like normal.
The rest is earmarked for revitalization projects in the TIF district.
For the West End TIF, 80% of the new tax revenue collected gets reinvested in the community. The TIF lasts for 20 years.
According to the West End Opportunity Partnership’s website, 2020 calls for social justice sparked the idea for the West End TIF district.
Lawmakers wrote the bill in February 2021, the governor signed it in April and the first board members were appointed in July.
The board is meant to be made up of people living and working in the community and requires local advocacy groups, like the Louisville Urban League and the NAACP, to have representation.
The resignations of Reynolds and Shadle caught Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer off guard.
"I didn't really understand what that was all about because the development of the West End is obviously really important,” Fischer said.
Reynolds released a statement on her resignation but didn't go into detail on why she and Shadle stepped down.
She did encourage Gov. Andy Beshear, who's responsible for replacing her, to appoint Celine Mutuyemariya to be Louisville Urban League’s representative.
In that statement, Reynolds said the league will always need to have a connection to the partnership board since its mission is to support and protect residents.
Reynolds said 75% of West End residents are renters and many in the community are concerned the TIF district will push them out of the area.
“We must keep in mind that there is no model we can point to around the country where Black and Brown communities have been invested in and residents have not been displaced,” Reynolds said in the statement.
But Fischer said the board was created in the way that it was to ensure that doesn’t happen.
"The concern whenever we're looking at investing in an area is that maybe it will force people out because they can't afford to live there, but the board members should be the ones to make sure that that does not happen,” Fischer said.
The governor’s office said Beshear intends to appoint replacements as soon as possible but didn’t say who the replacements might be.