Remember being a kid and running out to spend all of your allowance at the ice cream truck, just to have your long-anticipated sno-cone pop right out of the paper and land smack in a pile of dirt before you could get one lick? (Did that only happen to me? Awkward.)
Obviously when I was 6 years old I lacked the foresight to bring my sno-cone to the kitchen table, or simply save my money for something better than an artificially colored high-fructose corn syrup treat. But as an adult, I think carefully about my purchases and investments to determine whether they are necessary and beneficial to me.
And I appreciate when cities make careful decisions about spending residents’ money, even when others around them do not.
I commend the Crestwood Board of Aldermen for scrutinizing the use of taxpayer dollars for the Crestwood Mall commercial redevelopment. (See link for project description.) Board members opposed the heavy use of tax incentives for developer Centrum Partners, despite neighboring cities’ use of incentives for similar projects (such as Kirkwood, Webster Groves, Affton . . .). During the Oct. 9 meeting, the Board voted to defeat a proposal to use $26.6 million of public financial assistance to Centrum via tax incentives.
Centrum’s plan included one subsidy, Tax Increment Financing (TIF), and two additional taxes, which would put Crestwood’s sales tax at 10.745 percent. Neighbor Kirkwood’s sales tax is 8.175 percent.
It sure is enticing to follow the route of surrounding municipalities that used subsidies such as TIF to create shopping centers that took business away from the now vacant Crestwood Mall. But should a commercial center be heavily supported with public dollars? Would it benefit the city to have such high sales taxes? They are right to question the amount of taxpayer money going into this development.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the project may be re-visited at the Oct. 23 Board of Aldermen meeting. Hopefully, city officials will continue to stand firm against subsidies for this project.