If your future dream involves a shopping excursion to the Crossroads Art District in Kansas City, it may cost you a little bit more thanks to a proposed Community Improvement District (CID) for the area. CIDs are another example of the alphabet soup of special taxing districts in Missouri. Sing it with me:
“Is this a CID? Or is this an EEZ? Or is this a TDD? I thought it was old KC? Or just another subsidy…”
On the ladder of subsidies, CIDs are at the lower end of noxiousness. Nonetheless, as someone else (I don’t recall whom or where) said (paraphrasing here), “CIDs represent an admission that local government has failed in basic responsibilities.” Stepping into a void left by poor public services with new private activity is one thing. Stepping into the void with new, additional taxes and rules is quite another.
Along with all the other special taxing districts and subsidies, CIDs represent a constant growth in the public sector to do basic things that used to be better delineated between public or private responsibilities.
Police protection? Public. Better driveways to your own store? Private. Pretty flowers to beautify your shopping center? Private. Now we have turned these latter areas into semi-public responsibilities supported by tax dollars, be they TIF, TDD, or whatever.
I am pleased to read that there may yet be some serious opposition to the Crossroads CID proposal, as reported by Tony’s Kansas City. It should be far more difficult than it is to get these special districts established. Sometimes CIDs can focus on legitimately public interests, and you can argue that is the case here. (If it stays focused on security.) But often these types of districts easily morph into taxpayer-funded expense accounts for businesses that lack the proper oversight of tax dollars (like the Lake Lotawana CID). And the more you have of them, the harder it is to monitor all of them.
I hope the residents and business owners of the Crossroads district think long and hard about this latest tax proposal. I think their goals can be accomplished through private action (like the education campaign they have been waging) instead of new taxes.