The Parkville Board of Aldermen has pumped the brakes on a potential development plan after hearing concerns from the Park Hill School District and others over possible long-term tax abatements.
In an executive session held prior to the Tuesday, Jan. 16 regular board meeting, the board heard of changes to the proposed Apex Plaza development, for which a development plan was on the agenda that night. Tied to Apex Plaza, which is a commercial development located at Highway 45 and Melody Lane, was an amendment to an existing tax increment financing (TIF) district to include the new development.
Late last year, the addition of the Apex Plaza property to the Parkville Market Place TIF district was approved by the TIF commission, with dissenting votes cast by representatives from the Park Hill School District and Mid-Continent Public Library.
Also present in opposition to the terms of the potential TIF amendment was John Cady, an attorney representing the Parkville Special Road District.
“I respectfully request you look long and hard at this particular TIF,” Cady said, noting that the road district had historically been supportive of most tax incentive proposals, but made an exception this time.
The developer of Apex Plaza, CBC Parkville, has asked for abatement of all taxes for the maximum time period allowed under law — 23 years.
Cady felt this time span would set a precedent forcing Parkville officials to offer the same deal to future developers, lest they be accused of giving CBC Parkville an unfair advantage.
Park Hill assistant superintendent Dr. Paul Kelly likewise said that the Apex Plaza situation was an exception to Park Hill’s policy of cooperation. As 75 percent of the district’s revenue is from local tax dollars, the estimated hit the district could take over the 23 year lifespan of the TIF would negatively impact the district’s ability to function and serve its patrons.
“This amounts to an involuntary contribution from the school district that equals the removal of 75 teachers from the district’s payroll,” Kelly said.
Kelly said not since the construction of Argosy Casino in Riverside in the early 1990s has a proposed project been so heavily subsidized through taxpayer funds.
Cady and Mid-Continent Public Library community relations director Jim Staley said nearly 40 percent of the total project costs would be subsidized by taxpayer funds.
Staley said while Mid-Continent sees other communities across the Kansas City metro area use TIF in various ways to fund all kinds of projects, subsidized funding at that level is rare.
First district Platte County commissioner Dagmar Wood was also in attendance at the meeting. Wood said while she appreciates that the city is looking to fund the TIF projects without using taxpayers as a back stop in the event of financial shortfalls, she felt the 23-year lifespan was “excessive.”
In light of the public opposition and information discussed at the earlier executive session, the board opted to delay any discussion or vote on the Apex Plaza development plan and TIF terms, although they did vote to add the property to the existing TIF district, on a split vote.
Aldermen Doug Wylie and Dave Rittman voted no.
“I want the developer to know that we’re not saying ‘no,’” said mayor Nan Johnston. “What we are saying is we need more time to look at this.”