I don’t know what the City of Chesterfield is thinking by rejecting the recent community improvement district (CID) proposal for the Wildhorse Village Development. Look, people, when Ruth’s Chris Steak House can’t get a tax subsidy, something is deeply wrong with America. Without a tax subsidy, the steak there might get expensive . . .
Joking aside, the developer of Wildhorse Village (which includes Ruth’s Chris) is seriously angry that he did not get his tax subsidy from the Chesterfield City Council. That is how bad Missouri has become with the constant corporate welfare giveaways. The developer is actually mad that elected officials did not give him other people’s tax dollars to help him make more money from his development. He assumed (and past history in our area justifies his assumption, unfortunately) that those tax dollars were his for the taking. All he had to do was fill out some forms, make the required official statements, and Chesterfield would give him his tax subsidy.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the finance meeting. The city council finance subcommittee voted the subsidy down. Four votes against, zero in favor. As one councilmember said:
We don’t need to subsidize developers to come into Chesterfield and build. It’s some of the most desirable real estate with the best demographics in the area. We don’t need to bribe people to come in.
He is completely right about this. The same thing can be said about many other parts of the state where tax incentives and subsidies are ubiquitous. In the Central West End of St. Louis, for example, the tax incentives are so unnecessary that they are simply capitalized into a higher price for the property since it is just a given that the new owner will get tax subsidies. More money for the entity that makes the sale, less money for public services, all caused by an unnecessary government market distortion in the first place (the final part is the key point here).
There are very few cities in Missouri that typically take a hard look a tax subsidy requests. Most say yes to the proposals faster than a contestant on The Bachelorette. There are rumors the developers will come back and request money again—hopefully Chesterfield sticks to its gun here. If Chesterfield were to take the lead in turning down at least some of these requests, that would be a big step forward for municipal policy in Missouri.