The TIF Tax
On the November ballot, many Clay, Jackson, and Platte County residents will be asked to increase their property tax levy by 8 cents to support the Mid-Continent Library system. We calculate that passage would result in an increase as high as $10 million per year. These counties already have high property taxes according to the Brookings Institution, so a further increase is worthy of examination.
The Mid-Continent Library system spends just short of $44 million each year. As far as we at the Show-Me Institute can tell, they appear to be managing their budgets well. The library itself makes an additional point:
In addition, tax incentives and abatements by local government have impacted the revenue that would generally result from the growth of the Library’s tax base. The Library’s budget has been essentially flat for the past 8 years.
It appears that the cost of those tax incentives and abatements given to private developers—which we’ve discussed elsewhere–amounts to about $7 million a year in lost income to the library. The levy will replace that lost income.
We don’t have a view on whether voters should approve the levy increase, but it is clear that municipal handouts to wealthy corporations such as Cerner and Burns & McDonnell are not free. (To add insult to injury, these same corporations won’t have to pay this increased rate, either.) A levy increase such as this, which seeks to recoup diverted funds, can rightly be described as a TIF tax.