By Eli Yokley
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. —
The Missouri House of Representatives has passed legislation that would allow the creation of a special state taxing district to fund efforts to develop the part of Joplin ravaged by the May 2011 tornado.
Rep. Tom Flanigan’s legislation, House Bill 158, would allow the city to establish a tax increment financing district that would receive a portion of state taxes within its boundaries. It passed the lower chamber Wednesday, and with another vote, it will head to the state Senate, where Sen. Ron Richard, R-Joplin, is pushing a similar bill.
“This TIF will provide Joplin the opportunity for 1,500 new homes, apartment complexes, retail establishments, and it will be able to rebuild the city of Joplin in a way that will be extremely beneficial to the area it serves,” said Flanigan, a Carthage Republican. “What we are looking for in this TIF is to provide Joplin another tool in the toolbox to rebuild.”
Rep. Bill White — whose district includes most of the area affected by the tornado — has long been critical of the legislation because it would change taxes but would not require a vote of the people. But he stood up in favor of it Wednesday when Flanigan introduced an amendment that would restrict the legislation’s scope. For cities to apply for a state disaster TIF, a minimum of 25 percent property destruction would be required. For comparison, 32 percent of Joplin was destroyed.
“The good work of the Economic Development Committee tightened this whole bill very much,” White said.
The original legislation specified that a super-TIF district could be approved only if the area has received a presidential disaster designation; in addition, a local TIF district would have to precede the state TIF designation. The local TIF district receives a portion of local and county tax revenue within its boundaries.
Lawmakers heard testimony in favor of the bill earlier this year by David Wallace, chief executive officer of Wallace Bajjali Development Partners, the firm the city of Joplin contracted to manage its redevelopment. Under his proposal, Joplin would pull a total of about $60 million over 23 years from the city TIF district and the super-TIF district to help finance redevelopment projects.
Similar legislation passed the House during a special session in 2011 and again last year, but it got stalled
This year, the bill’s supporters are touting support from all of the taxing districts in Jasper County and Newton County — including the Joplin School District, which supporters say is noteworthy because school districts often are opposed to TIF projects.
Tornado TIF district
THE JOPLIN CITY COUNCIL late last year approved its own TIF district encompassing the same geographic area addressed in the state legislation.