In reference to Jason White’s column in last Thursday’s Examiner (“City tax hike obscured from public”), where was Mr. White’s voice when a small group of us were objecting to the formation of this community improvement district and construction of the Events Center?

To the editor:


In reference to Jason White’s column in last Thursday’s Examiner (“City tax hike obscured from public”), where was Mr. White’s voice when a small group of us were objecting to the formation of this community improvement district and construction of the Events Center?


The city initiated the C.I.D. process, promoted it, drew up the petition and circulated it to property owners and businesses in the proposed C.I.D. area, drew up the boundaries of the area, and submitted the vote forms to the businesses. They even gerrymandered the boundaries so that the Target store would be included, while exempting Crossroads. Any surprise that several city staff members sit on the board?


If Mr. White, belatedly, wishes to direct criticism to the project, he should direct it to the state legislature, which made it all possible, with a sales tax up to 1 percent. The city of Independence determined that a half-cent tax for the initial 20 years and a five-eighth cent tax for the next 10 years would be sufficient. It was the city that issued bonds to pay $5.8 million for the site – purchased from, guess who, Eastland Properties. It was the city that issued bonds for the construction of the Events Center, and it is the city that is on the hook to redeem these bonds. Under current economic conditions the original tax will not provide sufficient funds. The C.I.D. has no choice but to raise the rate and is under no obligation to seek public approval to do so.


The alternative is not pleasant to consider. As for Bass Pro not being included in the C.I.D. boundaries, it would have been futile. The Bass Pro site is a super TIF (tax-increment financing). That means 100 percent of all sales tax collected, and 100 percent of all property tax is returned to the developer for the next 25 years.


Trying to separate the C.I.D. tax might have been messy. The Bass Pro debacle is a subject for another commentary.