A Big Win for Taxpayers in Maryland Heights
As far as I know, the biggest defeat of a tax increment financing (TIF) package or similar tax subsidy (and, thereby, the biggest win for taxpayers) in Missouri history was when the St. Louis County TIF commission voted down the Maryland Height floodplain TIF proposal early last year. St. Louis County had opposed TIFs before, but under previous law the local municipality could just override the TIF commission and do what it wanted. Now there are much tighter limits on that override authority.
So when the St. Louis County TIF Commission voted the atrocious Maryland Heights proposal down last year 7-5 (with all county members and a Parkway school board member voting no), it was fantastic news. It was not the first defeat of an awful subsidy proposal in Missouri, but it was certainly one of the most important when you consider the amount of damage—fiscal, economic, and environmental—the project would have done. That’s why such a large consortium of individuals and groups opposed the project.
Of course, the City of Maryland Heights wasn’t going to take this decision lying down. No, it was going to do all it could to make sure it was able to use other people’s tax dollars to subsidize a hugely damaging project. So, after the vote, the city sued to overturn the decision of the TIF commission, claiming the commission itself was improperly constructed. Would the city have sued claiming the commission was improperly constructed if the commission had voted to pass the TIF? To ask the question is to answer it.
The great news that came down on Tuesday is that the court upheld the decision of the TIF commission and decided against Maryland Heights. This is a big win for taxpayers everywhere, and hopefully it will help inspire people around the state to continue opposing these types of tax giveaways with renewed fervor. I hope people are listening in Boonville, Lake Ozark, Kansas City, Chesterfield, and beyond. You can stand up to these awful local government plans and win.