Lee’s Summit has its TIF issues, too

%{[ data-embed-type=”image” data-embed-id=”” data-embed-element=”aside” ]}%

Last week, Kansas City Mayor Sly James reached out to Kansas City Public Schools interim superintendent Al Tunis. Both men want to figure out a better way to handle tax-increment financing issues.

That conversation has occurred under the backdrop of a weeks-long debate over philanthropist Shirley Helzberg’s request for $5 million worth of TIF to defray the costs of her $13 million redevelopment of an old warehouse at 1640 Baltimore. The building would become architecture firm BNIM’s new headquarters, a block away from where it currently leases space. 

KCPS is unhappy that a wealthy philanthropist wants to redirect future property taxes, the lifeblood of the school district’s budget, for a project benefiting a well-renowned private company. (It’s worth noting that KCPS initially approved the project but thought better of it after some failed vote-counting at an earlier TIF Commission meeting and has railed against the project ever since.)

KCPS is hardly the only school district that has been vigilant about the use of its future tax dollars through the TIF system. The Lee’s Summit School District wants a developer to cover the costs of educating students who might come to the district by way of a redevelopment project.

The Lee’s Summit Journal reports that Mariner Real Estate Management wants to use TIF (a development tool that redirects future property and economic-activity taxes back to a project itself) to open a senior living community as part of a broader development at New Longview.

A member of that district’s school board predicts that as many as 17 new students may enroll in the school district as a result of the project. The Journal’s story says the school district wants the developer to pay $6,000 for each student who comes into the district as a result of the project. That could mean more than $100,000 coming from the developer to the Lee’s Summit School District if all 17 projected students show up for class.

The Lee’s Summit School District at times has been a watchdog for developer subsidies within its boundaries. Lake Lotawana some years ago tried to pass a TIF plan to divert property taxes back to the city in order to build sewers and streets and other improvements that the city should be able to pay for in the ordinary course of municipal government. The Lee’s Summit School District took the city to court and put an end to its cash grab.

Categories: News