Millions of Kansas City, Missouri tax dollars are given away to developers each year in the name of economic development but does this help or hurt tax payers? This is the question that one neighborhood group hopes to answer with an upcoming public forum on Tuesday, February 27th, at 6:30pm.
“Our primary goal is to learn about the pros and cons from both sides and educate our neighbors in the process,” says Angie Lile, President of the Waldo Tower Neighborhood Association, the largest neighborhood association in the Kansas City area.
Lile continued, “Personally speaking as a parent with children in the Kansas City Public Schools, I have a real concern over the millions of dollars that could be used to help revitalize our schools and create better opportunities for all students. And as a property owner who pays taxes each year, I also want to know that my taxes are truly benefiting public schools, public libraries and mental health programs, rather than covering for developers of luxury housing units in areas that have already been redeveloped, who should also be paying for those things.”
Lile was referencing the up and coming Three Light project which is being discussed currently by the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City’s 353 Board in which the developer, Cordish, is requesting 100% tax abatement for 23 years on new luxury condominiums. They already received similar abatements for the first two projects with Two Light just finishing completion and rumor has it that a Four Light and Five Light are already being discussed.
The public forum which will be hosted by the Waldo Tower Neighborhood Association along with the Coalition for Kansas City Economic Development Reform and Our Revolution Kansas City has also gained the support of Southtown Council, the Waldo Area Business Association and the South Kansas City Alliance.
“Many areas in our city that were considered blighted and unattractive to developers have been turned around by providing tax incentives which have spurred redevelopment,” said Stacey Johnson-Cosby, president of the South Kansas City Alliance. “These new developments often encourage other private sector investments that have revitalized entire communities.”
“The new Cerner Innovations Campus by the site of the former Bannister Mall is a perfect example,” Johnson-Cosby said. “Its first phase was just completed, and we’re already beginning to see nearby commercial revitalization and proposals for new residential development.
We want our neighbors to be informed about the process in which tax incentives are requested and granted; and informed when the projects are presented to the community for feedback. This panel is an excellent start towards educating citizens.”
Jared Wight is also looking forward to the public forum. He is the Chair for Our Revolution Kansas City, a civic action group whose work is to effect progressive change at all levels of government by educating and informing voters about progressive issues, increasing voter engagement and participation, and supporting candidates and ballot measures.
“Income and wealth inequality are at levels not seen since just before the Great Depression,” says Wight. “We have an economy that is rigged in favor of the wealthy few at the expense of those most in need. I would like to know why we are subsidizing luxury apartments in areas where affordable housing is hard to come by.”
Tuesday night’s public forum is open to all and will include the following panel members:
- Bruce Eddy, taxing representative for Jackson County Mental Health Services
- Butch Rigby, a developer with Screenland Real Estate Services
- Crosby Kemper, taxing representative for the Kansas City Public Library
- Dan Moye with the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City
- Mark Bedell, taxing representative for Kansas City Public Schools
- Melissa Patterson Hazley, educator with Civic Engagement
Jan Parks, spokesperson for the Coalition for Kansas City Economic Development Reform stated; “CKCEDR is a community-based organization that has a committed interest in where and how economic revitalization happens in our city. We are focused on educating our community regarding the use of tax incentives. Our goals are to ensure transparency and racial equity and to lessen the abatement burden on the taxing jurisdictions”.
Interested parties can contact the Waldo Tower Neighborhood Association for more information about this event or any of the Co-Sponsors whose contact info is:
Waldo Tower Neighborhood Association
Contact- Angie Lile
(816) 559-7012 or email@example.com
Coalition for Kansas City Economic Development Reform
Contact- Jan Parks
Our Revolution KC
Contact- Jared Wight