Back for More Handouts
Government handouts can be a slippery slope for some developers—once they get one, they just ask for more and more. That appears to be the case for developers seeking millions more in public funding through tax-increment financing (TIF) for a project in Lee’s Summit. The Paragon Star sports and entertainment project was already approved for a variety of public subsidies in 2016, and now developers are back for more.
If approved by the Lee’s Summit City Council, this project could receive an additional $18.9 million in development incentives. According to an article in the Kansas City Business Journal, that would bring the total to $74.3 million in public support, which includes $32.3 million from transportation development district (TDD) bonds, $5 million from community improvement district (CID) reimbursements, $4 million in state funding, and $1 million in city funding. That’s a lot of taxpayer money!
This project is a mixed-use sports and entertainment project and it includes volleyball courts, children’s parks, restaurants, and retail establishments. Given the uncertainty regarding when we will return to “normal” use of these types of facilities, is this really where taxpayer dollars should be going?
The timing for this project is bad, but even in different times, it would still be a bad idea. Not only do government handouts give unfair advantages to some developers over others, but research shows that incentives such as these don’t result in measurable benefits for the communities that pay for them. They can end up being a huge waste of taxpayer dollars, which is something local governments really can’t afford right now. The developers for this project have already received more than enough public dollars. Do we really need to give them more?