Incentives Will Never End Unless City Leaders Say No
Waddell & Reed was just granted $62 million in state subsidies, but apparently that is not enough; now they want more. Kevin Hardy at The Kansas City Star reports:
The company is seeking a major property tax abatement to move into a new office tower in downtown Kansas City, according to economic development documents posted online . . . The agenda for Wednesday’s meeting of the Enhanced Enterprise Zone Board, which is under the umbrella of the Kansas City Economic Development Corporation, (EDC) shows Waddell & Reed plans to occupy a build-to-suit high-rise that will “add to the skyline in Kansas City.” The company plans to make a nearly $90 million capital investment, which includes about $80 million in lease and improvement costs and about $10 million in personal property investment.
Hardy’s piece goes on to detail the other subsidies sought by developers for downtown office space, such as the awful Strata proposal. The election of a supposedly incentive-skeptic mayor has not slowed down the demand for public money for private development. At a recent meeting of the Missouri Economic Development Financing Association, it was made clear that despite all the research showing incentives don’t deliver as promised and are viewed negatively by taxpayers, the organization sees no need to seek any changes or reforms.
City leaders need to do more than complain about incentives or say they “don’t pass the smell test.” They need to say no. Repeatedly. Only then will developers get the message.