They agree that the redevelopment of Truman Corners Shopping Center is a prime issue facing the city of Grandview, but longtime Ward 3 Alderman Jim Crain and challenger Sam Samarasinghe disagree on how best to go about it.
Samarasinghe is opposed to the $39 million in Tax Increment Financing the city has promised to RED Legacy to help transform the aging center into the new Truman’s Marketplace. If revenue projections don’t pan out, he says, the center could become a drag on the city’s budget, like the Power Light District is on Kansas City.
“The biggest objection I have is that they want the city to issue $39 million in bonds, and the developer will only put up $22 million,” Samarasinghe said, noting that the city’s annual budget is only about $30 million. “That concerns me a lot.”
“The city’s TIF policy states that we shouldn’t do more than 25 percent of a project with TIF, unless there is a track record with the developer. But this developer only incorporated in May 2012. They have done one project in the metropolitan area that they started from scratch — Wyandotte Plaza in Kansas City, Kan.”
Crain supported the TIF deal for RED Legacy — an affiliate of the older RED Development — to redevelop Truman Corners. He dismissed any concern that the size of the subsidy exceeds Grandview’s annual budget.
“The TIF stretches over 23 years,” Crain said. “You can’t compare that to the size of one year’s budget.”
Further, he said, a “brown field” site like Truman Corners is more expensive to develop than an undeveloped “green field.”
“Redevelopment is riskier for a lender, so the interest rate is higher, making it more expensive,” Crain said.
Crain said he would prefer not to have to offer TIF and other types of subsidies for developers, but with other cities offering them, “you’re either in the game, or you’re not … The alternative is to sit and do nothing.”
With sales taxes making up over 20 percent of the city’s annual revenues, Crain said, it’s crucial to try to increase them.
Crain said the knowledge he has gained during 34 years as an alderman will serve his constituents well.
“There is still lots of work to be done,” he said. “I’ve got the experience to make some improvements.”
Samarasinghe said he offers “new blood and fresh ideas to get Grandview progressing.”
He said he would “like to be in those closed sessions so I can ask questions.”
Ward 1 Alderman Sandra Kessinger and Ward 2 Alderman Annette Turnbaugh are running unopposed. So is Mayor Leonard Jones, who was appointed to replace Steve Dennis, who resigned in January.SAM SAMARASINGHE
7501 E. 133rd St.
Electrical engineer working for Electrical Corporation of America
Bachelor’s in electrical engineering, Texas A University
Grandview Citizen’s Advisory Committee on Transportation since mid-2013, chairman since Jan. 2; Grandview Construction Code Appeals Board, since December 2012; Grandview Zoning Board of Adjustment since November 2013; Western Chapter Missouri Society of Professional Engineers, director since 2011
13213 Corrington Ave.
Retired; 34 years at Hallmark Cards, final position as operations manager for Hallmark Business Expressions
Grandview High School graduate; bachelor of Arts in sociology with minor in psychology, William Jewell College; MBA in accounting and organizational behavior, University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Alderman, 34 years; Parks and Recreation commissioner, 34 years; secretary, vice-president and president of Missouri Municipal League Westgate Division, one year each; National League of Cities Transportation and Infrastructure Services Steering Committee, 12 years