A Taxpayer Fights for Answers
article in today’s Columbia Daily-Tribune profiles a taxpayer who’s taking action, getting involved in the process by which the Missouri Housing Development Commission (MHDC) issues tax credits to develop affordable housing in Missouri. The man, Greg Young, began by questioning why the MHDC gave such a big tax credit to a Springfield project:
Young focused on a $4 million housing project in Springfield that
was financed with $11 million in state and federal tax credits for
historic buildings and low-income housing.
After doing the math, Young concluded taxpayers were providing more
than $300,000 for each of the 32 apartments in the rental housing
Young saw this as a waste of tax dollars and looked into why the MHDC was appropriating so much money. He discovered that the state does not audit much of the money received by housing developers, outside of independent audits paid for by developers.
Young has begun studying economics on his own, and requesting MHDC documents through the Sunshine Law. He goes to their meetings and asks questions about why the commission’s ineffective largesse. The state could use more of this type of active citizenship.
State Treasurer Sarah Steelman, an MHDC member, appreiciates what he is doing:
He is a citizen who has taken an interest in the commission and who
hopefully wants to make it a better program, said state Treasurer
Sarah Steelman, who was MHDC chairwoman when Young made his statement. I’ve always had the opinion you never want to deter people from taking
an interest in what government is doing.
There should be more citizens like Young, Steelman said.
The political system needs people like Greg Young. Taxpayers often don’t know where their money is being spent, and even when they do, many just complain and move on. Young went a step further and decided to take action. If more citizens did that, government would be more responsive to citizens’ needs. I congratulate Mr. Young and hope he keeps up the good fight.