A QuikTrip will open near Antioch Center next week, and the chief financial officer of the North Kansas City school district has questions about how the property taxes will be spent.
QuikTrip built the store on the site of the former Bill Woods Ford dealership. The parcel falls within the boundaries of a tax-increment financing (TIF) plan created in 2005 to assist with the construction of a replacement for Antioch Center.
QuikTrip did not ask for taxpayer assistance. The Kansas City TIF Commission, however, wants to divert $1.6 million in taxes the store will create to pay for neighborhood improvements.
The plan would take $529,907 away from the schools, the libraries and other entities which rely on property taxes. Appearing before the TIF Commission board meeting this morning, Paul Harrell, the school district's CFO, said the district was prepared to support the plan but it had concerns.
Harrell asked the TIF Commission to consider possible conflicts of interests. The TIF Commission, for instance, named itself the developer of the QuikTrip parcel, which seems not unlike a judge representing a defendant in a courtroom.
Another possible conflict of interest involves Northland Neighborhoods Inc., a city-supported nonprofit group.
Jim Rice, the CEO of Northland Neighborhoods, sits on a committee that advises the TIF Commission on public
improvements the Antioch Center TIF plan should fund. But a document the committee prepared indicates that Northland Neighborhoods would be in line to receive some of that very money. (Northland Neighborhoods already contracts with the TIF Commission to administer grants to qualified homeowners who live near a TIF district that encompasses the Chouteau Trafficway Target store.)
Rice was at today's meeting. He sat frowning in his chair as Harrell and Freddie
Nichols, a Clay County Public Health Center trustee, made their
displeasure known. He eventually rose to defend Northland
Neighborhoods. "I guarantee the words 'non-profit
organization' have meaning in our case," he said.
But for too long, the TIF Commission has taken a cavalier attitude
about the composition of its advisory committees. Development lawyer
Tim Kristl, for instance, has served on advisory committees for TIF districts
in which his clients have interests. And no amount of recusals and abstentions made those arrangements right, either.
In the end, the TIF Commission passed a measure recommending that the City Council approve the diversion of QuikTrip taxes. Once again, it looks as though the schools will have to take one for the team. -- David Martin