The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

August 3, 2012

Joplin City Council approves creating fund

Officials: Tax credits could fund projects such as SPARK

JOPLIN, Mo. — The Joplin City Council on Friday agreed to take the first step toward applying for federal tax credits that might help finance future economic development projects.

The council held a special meeting at noon to hear the request of city staff to file an application with the federal government to establish the Joplin Community Redevelopment Fund, which could eventually administer any tax credits the city might receive.

Once formed, the limited liability corporation board would apply for federal tax credits through the New Markets Tax Credit Program. Under that program, taxpayers can buy tax credits to reduce their tax bills. The corporation can use the money generated by the sale to help provide investment capital for economic development projects. The program is available only to what the federal government defines as low-income communities based on census reports.

City Planner Troy Bolander told the Globe that before tax credits could be obtained, the city has to set up a certified entity, such as a corporation, to administer the tax credits.

“The corporation would sell the tax credits, and the money would go toward financing an eligible project.”

Bolander cautioned that “creating this entity does not guarantee we will receive these tax credits. It’s a competitive process. This is just the first step, so we have got a lot more work to do.”

City Manager Mark Rohr told the council at the special meeting that funds generated by the tax credit sales could be used for SPARK, a project to build a cultural arts complex downtown, but not exclusively, he said.

Council members discussed appointing a board for the fund composed of former mayors. Names mentioned included Mike Woolston and Gary Shaw, who still serve on the council, as well as Phil Stinnett, Richard Russell and Jon Tupper.

Councilman Bill Scearce said federal rules require that 20 percent of the board members be representatives of low-income residents.

Councilman Morris Glaze asked how long a board would exist once appointed.

Mayor Melodee Colbert-Kean said the fund would need a board as long as projects were being developed that might be able to obtain the tax credits.

Councilman Jack Golden said that the Economic Security Corporation might be a source for locating potential board members, since it administers programs related to income eligibility.

Rohr said that deciding the makeup of the board could be determined later. Right now, city officials are trying to meet a deadline to file the application to set up the fund, he said.

Shaw made a motion to approve the filing of the application, which the council approved by a vote of seven in favor. Two council members, Trisha Raney and Mike Seibert, were absent.

SPARK

City Manager Mark Rohr ITY introduced the SPARK plan before the 2011 tornado. A proposal by the North Group devised for the SPARK project calls for a performance and visual arts center of about 150,000 square feet to be built at First and Main streets. It also would have an amphitheater and could involve the restoration of Union Depot. SPARK stands for Stimulating Progress through Arts, Recreation and Knowledge of the past.

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