The public meeting we held last week to discuss economic incentives for big developers in Kansas City was well-attended with a number of folks showing up to learn how their tax dollars are affected.
We learned how each of our taxing jurisdictions (Public Schools, Public Libraries and Public Mental Health Services) were indirectly being impacted. There was a study that was referenced on a number of occassions which spurred much of the discussion.
That study can be viewed here in a presentation given by Dr. Terry Ward at Park University-
Some data suggests that the school district alone is missing out on $34 million each year which could provide much-needed maintenance funds or even help KCPS expand its extracurricular offerings including sports and STEM activities.
Jackson County Mental Health services serves 16,000 residents each year with a dwindling funding resource.
All of this would be easier for most voters to swallow if the incentives were being given to developers for responsible development in truly blighted areas.
However, we seem to be seeing huge incentives being offered with no questions asked to large developments in the luxury housing market which is showing signs of softening downtown.
Most people whose kids are impacted by diverted property tax from these large developments to KCPS can’t even afford to live in the housing that is being created by those incentives.
It was suggested that we contact our City Council and urge them to consider passing legislation that allows for our taxing jurisdictions to opt out of bad development deals which would drive incentives further east into truly distressed areas.
It was also suggested the definition of blight needs to be revised and clarified.
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