City Counselor Ryan Moehlman requested funds for the next fiscal year to create a program that could provide more tax incentives and could encourage more revitalization throughout the city.
The City Counselor department submitted a $15,000 pink sheet requesting funding to cover the cost of hiring special counsel to assist with establishing a city-controlled urban redevelopment corporation under Chapter 353 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri. The request was not funded in the mayor-approved 2020 fiscal year budget.
Pink sheets are funding requests from city departments.
Under the program, cities or counties can approve redevelopment plans that provide tax abatements for up to 25 years and those tax incentives can encourage developers to redevelop blighted areas, Moehlman told the Jefferson City Budget Committee on Thursday.
Currently, the city offers tax abatement economic development incentives through Chapter 100 Industrial Revenue Bonds, tax increment financing, and the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority, Moehlman said.
The Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority is currently through the Jefferson City Housing Authority.
The Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority has remained busy as it has worked to obtain dilapidated properties in the East Capitol Avenue Urban Renewal Zone. The authority then puts the properties on the market for individuals to rehabilitate them.
The urban renewal zone is bordered by East State, Lafayette, East High — including some parcels on the south side of East High — and Adams streets.
Moehlman said the Chapter 353 program is similar to the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority program, but the city would not have to rely on a separate political subdivision to administer that program, Moehlman said.
"It is a more flexible and potentially more powerful tool that, in many places, the LCRA was replaced by Chapter 353 for that type of thing," he said. "While we certainly appreciate our partners at the Housing Authority and everything they have done through the LCRA program, this could be an opportunity to modernize some of our practices when it comes to tax abatement and really put the City Council back in control of how and when properties are acquired and then how they are redistributed back to the public."
The $15,000 would be a startup cost, Moehlman said, adding other costs would occur as the program continued.
"The nice thing about (Chapter) 353 is because it's an economic development tool, most often (cities) get developers to pick up that cost and it very well could be a situation where the city is funding the startup costs but looking to recoup that cost back," he said. "It would probably be over the course of several projects and several years to do that, and $15,000 in the large scale isn't that much, but it could be a situation where this is an investment where we are expecting a return, a direct return on those dollars."
If the Budget Committee were to fund it in the FY2020 budget — which begins Nov. 1 — it may take four to six months to get the program operational, Moehlman said.
The department also submitted a pink sheet for $5,167 to fund a summer law clerk position, but the request was not funded in the mayor-approved budget.
The City Counselor department has a proposed budget of $321,678 for FY2020. The city's Municipal Court department has a proposed budget of $260,611.
In other business, the Budget Committee reviewed the Jefferson City Human Resources Department's proposed budget, which is $318,248.
The Human Resources department submitted seven pink sheets, for a total of $180,981. None of them were funded in the mayor-approved budget.
The department's top priority is an online learning management system, director Gail Strope said. The estimated cost is $15,000, according to the pink sheet.
"I do feel that we are well-behind our peers in offering city-wide training in all areas, particularly areas like customer service, communication skills, interpersonal skills, supervisory skills, safety topics, diversity and inclusion, harassment, etcetera," she said.
A learning management system would also allow city employees to access policies and procedures easily, Strope said.
The Human Resources Department also requested $21,530 to fund a city-wide internship program. That funding would be for five interns who would be paid $10 an hour for 10 weeks, according to the pink sheet.
The city had five interns this year.
Last year, the Budget Committee moved funds from other areas within the FY2019 budget to expand the internship program. Ward 5 Councilman Jon Hensley was a large advocate for this expansion.
"I think it's important to provide even some symbolic gesture to people coming out of college that we care about them staying here, and I think it's more than simply a recruiting tool for city government; I think it's a good recruiting statement for the city as a whole," Hensley said Thursday.
Other requests included an electronic performance appraisal system, awareness campaign, human resources assistant position, and a city match of $25 per month for deferred compensation participants. There was also a pink sheet request to fund the Jefferson City Human Relations Commission.