I couldn’t help but groan on seeing the news that Kansas City Council member Scott Taylor wants to hold “development 101” sessions each week at the start of his plans and zoning committee meetings.
Sure, people need more information about redevelopment terms such as Super TIFs and CIDs.
(The first acronym refers to diverting up to 100 percent of property, sales and earnings taxes collected on “tax increment financing” projects back to the developer to complete a project. A CID refers to community improvement districts where an extra tax or fee can be levied within that district to help pay for “new facilities or improvements to existing facilities that are for the use of the public.”)
However, City Hall’s biggest problem when it comes to economic development is that it has not released long-ago promised reports on what these tax breaks have accomplished in Kansas City — or what they have failed to do.
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Mayor Sly James and City Manager Troy Schulte pledged detailed reviews many months ago and, since then, have continued to say that exhaustive reviews are being done of previously approved development deals.
Update 12:30 p.m.
In an email response Friday, Kerrie Tyndall, the city’s director of economic development, laid out a plan for getting this information to the public:
“We currently are in the process of interviewing consultants to assist us with the project. We haven’t yet made that selection yet but are shooting to have that consultant selected and fully engaged by the first week in September. Based on the responses to the RFP we anticipate it could take 4-6 months to complete the full analysis, which would put us in early 2017. Having said that, it’s possible, and our goal, to be in a position to release some preliminary results sooner than that, as info is compiled between September and the completion of the project.”
Eventually, the public is supposed to find out whether doling out tax breaks to dozens of developments over the last two-plus decades has created jobs, brought new companies to town and done other good things for the community.
In the meantime, it’s fine for Taylor and his committee to “explain” things to Kansas Citians.
Just don’t expect people to take the city’s word for it that public officials have properly used taxpayer subsidies to stoke redevelopment when the proof for that claim isn’t yet available.