The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

December 10, 2012

Joplin school board voices support of proposed TIF district

By Emily Younker

— The Joplin Board of Education on Monday unanimously voted to support the tax increment financing district that is being proposed by the city and its master developer to spur redevelopment projects in the wake of the May 2011 tornado.

Officials with the school district have been negotiating with the city and the developer, Wallace Bajjali Development Partners, to build into the TIF proposal some financial protection for the school district over the 23-year life of the TIF.

Officials said the TIF, as originally proposed, would freeze assessed valuations at a post-tornado level, which is about $39 million lower than before the 2011 tornado. That amounts to more than $1 million in lost revenue annually for the district, officials have said.

The agreement reached among the school district, city and David Wallace, CEO of Wallace Bajjail, was revealed Monday by Huff during a special board meeting. It directs a $16 million payment to Joplin Schools to help offset financial losses. It includes a $13 million payment in the third year of the TIF, plus $1.6 million to the schools through a TIF reserve account and the remaining $1.4 million to be given to the district by the fifth year of the TIF, Huff said.

The district has also projected that housing redevelopment in the TIF area could attract new students, but without the increases in property taxes that the redevelopment would bring, as that revenue would go back to the TIF fund to pay off bonds.

To address this challenge, Huff said the district will receive $3,925 per new student above an agreed-upon baseline enrollment number. That amount will cover the annual cost of educating the student and also includes a sum to be set aside in escrow that could be tapped in the future if one or more new schools would need to be built because of an increase in enrollment, Huff said.