Monday night, the Chesterfield City Council gave preliminary approval to a new outlet mall development that plans to impose a Community Improvement District (CID) sales tax of 1 percent to help finance the project. This CID is a tax subsidy and a tax giveaway, just like any TIF (Tax Increment Financing), EEZ (Enhanced Enterprise Zones), or other route of central economic planning.
I will admit that CIDs are a little less noxious than TIFs. But, no matter what grading scale, tax subsidies are not needed in Chesterfield. The market for retail shopping is plenty strong that the city does not need to turn over the taxing authority to private developers. The real issue, however, is that with projects like this, we must acknowledge that we long ago passed the tipping point where basically every major development in Saint Louis and Kansas City is subsidized by the taxpayers. When you are going forward with subsidies for things like outlet malls in one of the nicest parts of the region, the idea of a free market is basically defeated. Once you subsidize outlet malls in wealthy areas, at what possible good or service do you draw the line?
The obvious answer is that there is no line and the use of tax dollars for subsidized, politically-connected developers is just a fact of life now in much of Missouri. That is repulsive.