January 10, 2013

Shrewsbury TIF Is Dead — For Now

Last night, I testified before the St. Louis County TIF (Tax Increment Financing) Commission about the proposed TIF plan for a Walmart in Shrewsbury. There was a very large turnout and numerous people chose to speak. The majority of the speakers were opposed to the TIF (and opposed to the Walmart, though I am just against the TIF), but there is no denying there were plenty of speakers in favor of it. (My guess is 60 percent opposed to 40 percent in favor, unlike Ellisville last year, where it was probably 80-20 against that TIF.)

This is not meant to sound corny, but no matter how you feel about the TIF, it was impressive to see so many people at the meeting participating in their local government.

After all the testimony, the commission rejected (via a tied 6-6 vote) a compromise proposal from the Affton School District that would have capped the property tax funds that the TIF captures at 50 percent — the same as sales taxes. That is not a bad idea, and I commend the school district’s reps for trying to find common ground. However, my guess is that the rest of the board voted it down because that change would have only been advisory to the city while the full TIF would have gone forward with a “yes” recommendation. That means the Shrewsbury Board of Aldermen could have ignored the change and then passed the TIF anyway with just a simple majority.

Next, the commission voted on the primary TIF proposal to give the developer a $15 million subsidy ($11.25 million in TIF and $3.75 million in Transportation Development District or Community Improvement District funding). The commission voted this down 9-3, with only the Shrewsbury-appointed commissioners in favor. Now, in order to pass the TIF, the Shrewsbury Board of Aldermen needs a two-thirds majority vote in favor, which by all accounts, it has. So it goes.

The TIF is dead. Long live the TIF!

It was a good night to see a bad idea defeated. Unfortunately, the celebration is short-lived, as it will likely pass the next test.

P.S. Thanks to McGraw Milhaven for posting the testimony video to YouTube.

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