Tides Turning Against TIF?
Public support is growing for efforts to protect local funding from bad tax-increment financing (TIF) deals, but will the elected officials of Boonville listen?
In the April 6th election, voters in the Boonville R-1 School District approved Proposition 2. Proposition 2 allows the district to borrow $4 million to repair and improve the area’s schools; it passed by a more than 50-point margin. The overwhelming support for the proposal serves as a reminder of how important the Boonville community views sufficient funding for public schools. But if so many residents of the district believe schools deserve millions in new funding, why would the city’s elected officials consider using TIF to divert future tax dollars away from schools and into the pockets of a private developer?
Cities across Missouri are finally catching on to how bad of a deal TIFs can be for local schools. In fact, the Boonville R-1 Board of Education recently joined the ranks of the St. Louis and Kansas City school districts by formally opposing the use of TIF.
The reasoning behind the school’s opposition is simple: When a home is built within a TIF district, the families that live there will pay the same property (real estate) taxes as everyone else in the community, but instead of their tax dollars funding schools as they normally would, some of those funds go to the developer. In effect, this means that children could be attending public schools without the necessary funding.
The support for protecting local taxing districts (schools, public health, etc.) has become so widespread that the issue is finally receiving attention in Jefferson City. Over the past few weeks, Missouri’s legislature has moved closer to passing much-needed reforms to the state’s TIF laws. The bill being considered, SB 22, would make it harder to unnecessarily use TIF to the detriment of local taxing districts, and would represent a significant improvement for all of Missouri.
While we’re still waiting to see the final TIF proposal for Boonville and whether SB 22 gains final passage, it’s easy to see which way the winds are blowing. It’s time for Boonville’s elected officials to protect local funding for the Boonville R-1 School District by saying no to TIF.