Brody Corners Decision Good for Springfield
Springfield has temporarily abandoned an incentive package plan for the Brody Corners multi-use project. The plan would have resulted in $3.2 million returned to the developer through tax-increment financing (TIF). Regardless of how it came about (there were accusations of the process being rushed and lawmakers who felt uninformed), the demise of this package is good for the city of Springfield.
This TIF incentive package was previously touted as imposing “no financial risk” on the city, but there’s simply no way to guarantee that a TIF agreement will not have negative financial effects on a city. Along with the numerous other problems posed by TIF (as outlined in my new paper), TIF can pose a financial risk to cities, and it has in Missouri on several occasions across several decades.
In the 1990s, the St. Louis Marketplace TIF bonds were backed by the city, meaning that the city was on the hook for the bond payments if the project did not generate enough revenue. Spoiler alert: it didn’t. A similar situation took place in Independence, Missouri, when a TIF project anchored by a Bass Pro shop failed to meet sales-tax revenue projections, so lawmakers used $3.5 million from the general fund to cover the shortfall in the bond payment.
While these situations aren’t a normal occurrence, there’s clearly no guarantee that TIF won’t present a huge financial burden to the city. Apparently, this is a lesson that Missouri municipalities cannot learn. Local lawmakers should be wary of TIF and bold statements like those made about the Brody Corners project. Its good news for Springfield that this plan was dismissed, and hopefully it won’t return in the new year.