Adopting House Bill 1236 would aid school districts

Adopting+House+Bill+1236+would+aid+school+districts

By Mike Anthony
Executive Editor
news1@callnewspapers.com

Mike Anthony

We believe state legislators should adopt House Bill 1236, which would allow school districts and other taxing entities to opt out of tax-increment financing, or TIF, districts.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Dan Stacy, R-Blue Springs. Co-sponsors include Rep. David Gregory, R-Sunset Hills; Rep. Mary Nichols, D-Maryland Heights; and Rep. Rick Francis, R-Perryville. Francis retired from Lindbergh Schools in August 2012 as assistant superintendent for personnel services.

Lindbergh Board of Education Treasurer Mike Tsichlis has been lobbying state legislators for the passage of HB 1236, citing the detrimental impact of TIFs on school districts.

Tsichlis, a former Crestwood alderman, specifically cited the stalled redevelopment of the former Crestwood mall site at Sappington and Watson roads. While Crestwood aldermen voted two years ago to adopt an agreement with mall owner UrbanStreet Group of Chicago, which proposed a $104.3 million redevelopment project, no tenants have yet been announced.

The redevelopment agreement contained $25 million in tax incentives, including $15 million in tax-increment financing assistance or a Chapter 353 tax abatement.

Lindbergh officials say the school district stands to lose over $9 million during the life of the TIF, which a city consultant estimated at 15 years.

Regarding Stacy’s bill, Tsichlis said, “What this piece of legislation would do would allow school boards to vote, even if a TIF has been approved, to designate, say, a part of their funding for this project, 25, 50, 75 percent, even 100 percent if they really believed in it, or none at all, OK? So it gives us a place at the table — public education a place at the table when it comes to determining TIF outcomes …”

While Lindbergh had two representatives who opposed the incentives on the city’s TIF Commission, a recommending body, the district had no representation on the Board of Aldermen that ultimately approved the tax incentives. That amounts to “taxation without representation,” as one taxing entity has been permitted to interrupt another’s revenue flow.

Stacy’s bill has been referred to the Local Government Committee, which scheduled a hearing on it Wednesday — after the Call went to press.

Once again, we urge legislators to adopt HB 1236, as it would give school districts and other taxing entities a mechanism to protect themselves from a TIF that could have a negative financial impact on them.