Ceux Subventionnes (The Subsidized Ones)
It is not our intention to be the Inspector Javert to the Jean Valjean of Winghaven, constantly chasing Paul McKee’s proposals around to criticize them like the fanatical French cop pursued the reformed Valjean. Nonetheless, bad proposals for Saint Louis keep coming from Paul McKee, and if it falls to us to keep saying “stop,” then so be it. (Thanks to johncombest.com for the link, and to Victor Hugo for the references.)
The latest proposal is to transfer the bottle district TIF (tax increment financing) from the original developers to the control of Mr. McKee and his entities. To be clear, McKee and his groups were not involved in the original TIF proposal, so we cannot pin all of this on him. However, unlike tax credits, the TIF law was not drafted with the intention of TIF being transferable. I do not think it is right for one stalled TIF proposal to just be assigned to someone else – and I do not care who that someone else is. (Note: I am not saying transfering the TIF is illegal, just improper.) At least some people in city government seem to be aware of this issue:
[Saint Louis Development Corporation Executive Director Rodney] Crim wouldn’t specify what, exactly, the city objects to. But he suggested officials have concerns about using TIF for one project to help fund another.
“My focus is on what can and cannot be done with the Bottle District TIF,” he said. “We just have some more talking to do.”
I think it is especially wrong to continue to subsidize property that at this very moment is being made more valuable because of major public improvements. Here is one description of the property:
Located just north of the Edward Jones Dome (home of the Rams) along Interstate-70, the site is one of the most desirable development locations left available Downtown. Once the new Mississippi Bridge is complete, its location next to the bridge will make the site even more visible and accessible than it already is.
Former longtime New York Sen. George Washington Plunkitt would have fully understood developers seeing their opportunities and taking them, but even he would never have asked for the new land to be subsidized on top of it. If this land at the base of a major new bridge has to be subsidized, I guess we are at the point where we just admit everything gets a tax subsidy, unless, of course, you are just a small entrepreneur without political connections.