Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Mark Funkhouser, ex-auditor, calls for audit of TIF Commission

Posted By on Wed, Jun 9, 2010 at 12:00 PM

click to enlarge In Funkytown, auditors are like rock stars.
  • In Funkytown, auditors are like rock stars.

As a candidate, Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser ran against the generous distribution of incentives developers received from City Hall. Today he asked for an audit of an agency that makes the magic happen.

Funkhouser asked for time at Wednesday's meeting of the Tax-Increment Financing Commission. In calling for the audit, the mayor brought to mind a singer performing his best-known hit. As city auditor, Funk wrote stinging appraisals of the TIF Commission and the developer-friendly way in which it conducted its business.

The TIF Commission's staff works with developers who say they need taxpayer assistance to proceed with their projects. The commissioners send the proposals to the city council, which has final say on the development deals.

Funkhouser has criticized the process for years. As auditor, he found that projects tend to be viewed through rose-colored glasses and the TIF Commission lacking in the controls necessary to keep developers honest.

click to enlarge Kansas City Live! benefits from TIF.
  • Kansas City Live! benefits from TIF.
This morning, Funkhouser said he wanted an accounting of how money is passing in and out of various TIF plans. The mechanism has been used to develop shopping malls, housing developments and attractions such as the Power & Light District.

"There is an awful lot of money at stake," said Funkhouser, who did not identify specific projects or plans he felt needed special attention.

A city-funded agency, the Economic Development Commission, administers the TIF program. The agency is regularly audited. Funkhouser encouraged the TIF Commission to hire a "fresh set of eyes" to do the inspection of the various TIF plans.

The TIF Commission, which is made up mainly of mayoral appointees, passed the resolution that Funkhouser presented to them. The resolution says it is essential for decision makers and the public to have a "clear picture of the financial status and performance of each TIF plan."

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