KC should terminate this TIF
The Kansas City Star
A compromise in the works could benefit the Raytown School District plus help improve some southeast Kansas City neighborhoods.
The issue involves Raytown’s fierce and commonsense opposition to using millions of school tax funds to build a city-sponsored youth soccer complex in Swope Park, actually inside the Kansas City Public Schools’ boundaries.
Fortunately, city officials have agreed to postpone discussion of this plan at Wednesday’s Tax Increment Financing Commission meeting.
Raytown would like $5 million of its funds — generated by property owners in the nearby Winchester Center TIF district — to be returned to the schools.
Or some of the money could be spent on improvements such as better sidewalks and roads inside the school district’s boundaries. Raytown Superintendent Allan Markley said Monday he will push for the city to use some of its leftover Winchester TIF funds for those long-promised upgrades, too.
Raytown officials also make a good case that it’s time to place the properties inside the Winchester TIF district back on the tax rolls. Public revenues generated by those properties then would flow directly to the city, Jackson County, the Raytown district, the Mid-Continent Public Library and other taxing jurisdictions.
The city should agree to pull the plug on the TIF plan. The original funds helped create an office park in southeast Kansas City, as planned. It would be bad public policy to keep the district in place simply so it could finance a special project outside the boundaries of the original district.
If Raytown regains control of its school funds, Kansas City would have to come up with a new way to finance the soccer fields. That would prompt a needed discussion at City Hall on how high the fields rank as a priority.