Tax Subsidy Spurious—St. Louis Grift
St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones is giving me hope with her more disciplined approach to tax subsidies in the City of St. Louis, but despite this the requests—and unfortunately, the approvals—for far too many harmful and unnecessary tax subsidies keep coming in throughout our region.
Chesterfield is a vibrant, popular, and growing area. The idea that tax subsidies are needed for businesses there is absurd. So, what does St. Louis County do when a new studio wants to build a production facility there? Well, give away the store, of course. This week the county council unanimously passed a subsidy worth between $88 and $130 million for the new business in one of the most successful and wealthy parts of the state. This is insanity.
In years past, I was honored to be able to testify in favor of tax-increment financing (TIF) reform before the state legislature alongside other reform supporters from Dierbergs Markets. So, who is now asking for a major TIF in Crestwood, another prosperous St. Louis County suburb with no need to give away tax subsidies? Dierbergs, of course. It wants $17 million in subsidies to open a grocery store just down the block from a competing grocery store. Crestwood giving away this money would be insanity.
Hopefully, the St. Louis County TIF Commission will reject this wasteful TIF, just as County Executive Page’s TIF appointees admirably did with the Maryland Heights floodplain TIF monstrosity that was rejected in early 2020.
Finally, despite Mayor Jones’ efforts, St. Louis City commissions keep approving subsidy upon subsidy, including a new $92 million subsidy for a downtown hotel that already received a separate TIF a few years back. If the first subsidy doesn’t work, just give them another, I guess. Hopefully, Mayor Jones will oppose this proposal, too.
Just like the Fast & Furious franchise, the plotlines for tax subsidies keep getting recycled over and over. Recent tax subsidy vetoes and rejections by the Jones and Page administrations give me some hope, but sometimes it feels as if the cruise ship is sinking and all one has is a small bucket to bail with.