he City of Kansas City did the right thing this week when it agreed to finally abide by the law and give Jackson County representation on the TIF Commission in the future.
The City of Kansas City did the right thing this week when it agreed to finally abide by the law and give Jackson County representation on the TIF Commission in the future.
But it is ashame that Jackson County had to file a lawsuit against the city first in order to get the city to comply.
The TIF Commisison oversees millions of dollars in tax breaks for new developments. Most cities are using TIFs – tax increment financing – as an economic tool to lure developers, who can use property tax money to help pay for infrastructures costs associated with the development. By law, however, each taxing entity whose taxes are deferred has the right to be represented on the TIF commission, and the commission must approve the proposal by majority.
Independence, Blue Springs and other area cities have been doing it the right way for years, but Kansas City has not allowed the county, the public library, fire districts and others the right to sit on the commission.
Good job by County Executice Mike Sanders for pressing the issue. As a sitting commission member, the county may go along with many TIF proposals in the future, but by having a presence on the commission the county may help negotiate terms that save county taxpayers millions of dollars.
Kansas City also played it shady recently with its last-second payment to comply with the Truman Sports Complex stadium leases. After Jackson County taxpayers have paid hundreds of millions of dollars in upgrades over the last few years, Kansas City has threatened to break the lease the last two years by not honoring its commitment, jeopardizing the entire investment.
The two incidents put into question the integrity of Kansas City officials who are apparently willing to ignore the law and break signed agreements. It makes one wonder what other things the city is trying to get away with. No wonder some people have a hard time trusting government.