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Your Opinion: TIF proposal needs more thorough analysis

Your Opinion: TIF proposal needs more thorough analysis

November 27th, 2013 by Ed Williams, Jefferson City in News

Dear Editor:

The reasons that TIF and CIF tax districts should not be created to pay for remodeling the Capital Mall are as follows:

There has been no evidence that the $15 million expected to go to the Mall owners are needed. Owners will receive all profits and should take all risks.

Under American capitalism, a business should generate enough money to pay for itself. Otherwise it is not supplying a needed service. A lot of stores have opened in Jefferson City demonstrating there is plenty of retail space. The expansion of Hy-Vee behind the Capital Mall shows the viability of the area. Malls are considered an outdated method of retail because of the expense of unused space. The buyers of the mall knew the condition of the mall when they bought it. They have secured $31 million to finance remodeling. Maybe their buying power could receive a discount for building materials.

Most shoppers will not realize that they are paying more for an item because of the added sales tax. The stores will not pay the extra sales tax themselves. Avoiding property taxes means that other taxpayers will have to make up the slack or not receive city services otherwise available.

The TIF committee did not do its job to examine the need of the special tax district. I asked the committee for a delay so voters could examine this very complex proposal. I asked why a vote was taken only 36 hours after the first article about it appeared in the News Tribune. No reason was given. The word of the people receiving the $15 million was taken at face value with only a few shallow questions asked. The vote with only one meeting and no finances disclosed demonstrates lack of transparency of the TIF proposal.

Spending of other tax money such as schools and local government entities are subject to audits. There have been a couple of financial irregularities in Cole County governments in the last few years. The tax money generated by the special tax districts could be spent in a careless or unwise way. If the Capital Mall owners plan to spend the tax money wisely, why would they want to avoid the taxpayers knowing where their money goes?

Voters should let their council member know that not enough thought has gone into giving tax money to remodel the Capital Mall.