Mayor Sly James today released the below statement in response to filing of a referendum petition on a tax increment financing project:
“When I took office in 2011, Kansas City had gone through a time when we practically pushed businesses away. I knew our economic development processes could generate better results for our community. That is why I shepherded Advance KC, a strategic planning process where we realigned our priorities and streamlined our processes.
“We’re closer to where we want to be, but I know we can do better. I’m going to continue efforts to right-size incentives while continuing to foster development by collecting and analyzing data so we know the impacts — positive or negative — of economic development incentives. Part of this is ensuring that Kansas Citians, the people whose tax dollars create these incentives, are put to work by the projects.
“Deciding economic development projects by public vote is no way to foster a vibrant economy in Kansas City, Missouri. This referendum represents more than just a building at 17th and Baltimore. It represents how we want our government run — by data and analysis or by political gamesmanship.
“The facts surrounding this particular project have been twisted. The facts are this: The district will receive more if the project moves forward than if it does not. That is evidenced by the fact that the school district agreed to terms of this project but later reneged on the deal.
“The long-term implications of continuing development by public vote means Kansas City loses businesses, our school district loses money, and our neighborhoods lose stability. Although this particular issue appears to be influenced by long-standing school district politics, I understand concern about the broader policy of priorities and tax incentives. We must balance tax incentives with the city’s continued growth and momentum. However, a forced and politically motivated election is no way to define that policy.”
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