Why On God’s Green Earth Can Cities Override The County TIF Commission?
I have been able to determine that the best and worst laws are in Missouri. This is the best law. But, what is the worst law? From the perspective of bad public policy, I think the law giving authority to cities to override a county TIF (tax increment financing) commission may be the worst law in the state (RSMo 99.825(2). Yesterday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch has a long story about this issue (link via Combest).
Both the Saint Charles and Saint Louis County Executives have been leading the fight against TIF, to their great credit. They are dead right that TIF is nothing more than cities pursuing their interests at the expense of everything else, all while leading to the economically harmful scenario of developers chasing subsides.
Mayor Conrad Bowers of Bridgeton is totally wrong with this quote in defense of TIF:
“Cities have a legitimate right to do what they think is in the best interest of their community and it certainly was in our best interest to keep Walmart in the city of Bridgeton . . .”
What he is so wrong about is that by using TIF, the city is also making tax decisions that impact every other tax district in the area: school, fire, community college, zoo-museum, county, library, and more. If they were acting only with city money, that would be one thing. They are not. They are acting with everyone’s money, and in a manner that will increase Bridgeton’s sales tax collections while hurting the property tax base of all the other districts.
There is no more important policy change in Missouri than removing the ability of cities to override a county TIF commission’s rejection of a TIF proposal. For more on the Show-Me Institute’s work on TIF and the closely-related sales tax pool, check out these links.