Back on November 4, I recommended Kansas City City Council members curtail the $6 million administrative fee that PortKC would collect as part of the deal to bring the USDA to Kansas City. Two days later the city council’s Finance, Governance and Public Safety Committee did exactly that, revising the related ordinance to reduce the city’s subsidy from $6 million to $1.6 million.
To review, there were two offerings to get the USDA to relocate to Kansas City, Missouri. The first was a state subsidy that allowed half of the withholdings tax paid to the state to be used to offset the costs of preparing the new site. Under the statutes relevant to the particular incentive package being used, 20 percent, amounting to $6 million, was to be paid to PortKC in administrative fees.
The second subsidy (unrelated to the first) redirected local Kansas City taxes to the project. This amount also happened to total to about $6 million. So rather than have local taxpayers give up all that money, the city council simply directed PortKC to forgo some of its administrative fee so that Kansas City taxpayers didn’t have to cough up as much. The amount given to the USDA is the same, but PortKC’s windfall is dramatically reduced.
Monday, Steve Vockrodt reported in The Kansas City Star that PortKC followed suit, albeit begrudgingly:
Last month the Kansas City Council passed an ordinance that reduced by about $4 million what the city would contribute to the USDA incentive package. In turn, the Port Authority felt compelled to cut the $6 million it had counted on from the AIM Zone by $4 million to make up the difference and keep the USDA interested in relocating to Kansas City.
This is a victory for Kansas City taxpayers and a necessary limitation placed on PortKC. Back in August I called for further restrictions to be placed on PortKC’s authority and jurisdiction. This is a good start, but more should be forthcoming.