Rich Riebeling responded, "I think it was when the redevelopment district started."
Riebeling struggled to justify the definition.
"Is it true parts of downtown Nashville are detrimental to the safety and health?" we asked.
Riebeling responded, "I don't,I can't answer that. I don't know if that's the case. I don't make that determination. The council and MDHA made it."
NewsChannel 5 Investigates followed again, "Does that definition match what you see downtown?"
"Of course not," Riebeling admitted. "Downtown is not blighted."
He continued, "I understand that you are using one word to try and draw a conclusion, which is fine. I think if you look at how it has been used ,it's very clear the city has benefited from our use of TIF."
The assistant general counsel with the Tennessee Comptroller's Office, Betsy Knotts, had concerns.
"There is a need for a little more oversight," Knotts said.
She said the expansion of Nashville's redevelopment plans until the year 2040 -- more than 60 years after it started -- raised red flags.
"I do think 60 years is rather long. I mean, it's why the cut off is 30," Knotts said.
Knotts said the goal should be to pay off debt as quickly as possible.
"Eventually the (TIF) plan is done and the debt is paid -- and you've got this lovely pool of property tax proceeds that can go to schools and other governmental purposes," Knotts said.
But that's not happening in Nashville.
NewsChannel 5 found that even when TIF loans are paid off, Metro continues to send property taxes to MDHA for future projects.
Take, for example, the Kroger on Rosa Parks. It was built with a TIF loan that was paid off in 2003, but its property tax money is helping to pay for the Sounds ballpark.
And nearly $1.6 million in property taxes from the Icon condo will go to a new pedestrian bridge in the Gulch.
Tennessee's tallest building, the so-called Batman Building, was paid off in 2002. But the $1.7 million it generates every year goes toward the Omni Hotel.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked Knotts, "That money from that building is not going back into the general fund. What do you think of that?"
"That," she said, "gives me pause."
The state passed a law in 2012 tightening rules on how TIF is used.
We asked, "So this calls into question whether that law is being followed?"
Knotts responded, "In my opinion, yes."
But Riebeling said Metro is doing what it has always done. The city has never returned TIF money back to the general fund.
"By policy, the city has never chosen to do that. The money has always gone to MDHA," Riebeling said.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked, "Has Metro followed state law?"
Riebeling responded, "I don't know of any reason why we're not following state law. If we haven't, then we'll address it."
Iconic Nashville Buildings Pay Little For City Services
The state comptroller has called for a meeting with Metro officials to go over how the city uses tax-increment financing.