The Lake Loves Local Subsidies
It seems you win some, you lose some. Just as soon as I was about to pop open a bottle of champagne concerning the halt to a proposed minimum wage hike in Saint Louis, bad news from the Lake of the Ozarks burst my bubble.
Last Wednesday, the Osage Beach TIF Commission approved Tax Increment Financing for the redevelopment of the Dogwood Hills Golf Resort. The total cost of the subsidy package is $55 million. The proposal now goes to the city Board of Aldermen for approval. There’s a chance the board could reject the proposal, but I’m not getting my hopes up.
It’s too bad that the TIF Commission voted to approve these subsidies. I submitted testimony that pointed out granting a TIF for this project would be bad policy. Not only does TIF not lead to economic growth, it can end up harming other entities (like school districts) who rely on growth in future tax revenue to finance themselves. Instead, counties and municipalities should let the free market work and decide which development, if any, should happen on the property. If Osage Beach believes that taxes are too high for development to occur at Dogwood Hills, why not grant a small tax cut to everybody? Why should one developer get special treatment?
As officials in Osage Beach toast to the prospect of a new development in their city, other cities should not follow their example. Development can occur without TIF. I hope more policymakers will realize that.