City in a tiff over TIF district

By Nicole Cooke -

By Nicole Cooke

After several months of discussion and debate, the Tax Increment Financing Commission has denied the request for a new TIF district in Sedalia. However, the proposal could still be passed.

The decision came during a TIF Commission meeting Wednesday regarding the proposed TIF district on U.S. Highway 50 behind the Galaxy movie theater and in front of the EconoLodge.

According to the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, “Tax Increment Financing (TIF) is a financing and development tool that allows future real property taxes and other taxes generated by new development to pay for costs of construction of public infrastructure and other improvements. TIF encourages development of blighted, substandard and economically underutilized areas that would not be developed without public assistance.”

The commission, which has six city-appointed members and five members representing the various tax districts in the county, disagreed with the proposal, voting it down.

“It was very strange in there were very few questions asked,” City Administrator Gary Edwards told the Democrat on Thursday regarding the meeting. “We’re trying to find out what was the reason for that, it was hard to get a feel on what the reason was. I don’t know at this point.”

The City of Sedalia presented the proposed district to the Pettis County Ambulance District Board of Directors during its Aug. 11 meeting. The board was a bit skeptical of the proposal, but ended up giving its stamp of approval to the project. The board said it would only approve this particular district and would consider future TIF districts on a case-by-case basis.

The Sedalia City Council then approved an ordinance approving a terms sheet with Star Acquisitions Inc. for the proposed district during its Sept. 28 meeting.

Edwards said the next step in the process is for council to review the proposal, as it has final say, by state law. A date for council’s vote has not been set, but Edwards said state law states it can be no sooner than two weeks following the commission’s vote.

Local businessman and developer Jorge Guevara, of Guesa USA, said he is “100 percent in favor” of the TIF district.

Districts are a great way for the city to acknowledge and encourage us developers to invest in the city,” he explained. “We invest money expecting to recoup in 10 to 20 years, that’s what we hope for. We put a lot of money in the community. What the city is saying is we believe so strongly in our community, our people, we the community would like to help you invest in our community.

“People have a misunderstanding thinking it will cost taxpayers money; it does not. TIF is built for the developer to pay out of its own pocket, but to reimburse you the added cost it will cost you to build on a property.”

While Guevara is in favor of TIF districts, he said he thinks the proposed Highway 50 district should be reworked.

“(EconoLodge) should absolutely get a TIF and go to these gentlemen with Star,” he said. “I’ve seen them in Kansas City, their buildings are well-maintained.

“The property behind the movie theater, I don’t see why it would need assistance to be developed,” he continued. “I am pro TIF 100 percent, and this one, I think the structure of it was not correct. It wasn’t fully there. I think that’s why the board didn’t approve it. The request was a little too much. I really hope they get to develop and work something out for the property in front of (EconoLodge).”

Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1482 or @NicoleRCooke.

Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1482 or @NicoleRCooke.

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