by Eli Yokley
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. —
Missouri legislators began work this week on a new proposal toward providing Joplin with $15 million for tornado redevelopment projects.
The payment, if approved, would be in lieu of enacting additional tax-increment financing legislation that also has been proposed to fund almost $16 million in projects.
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. John Lamping, R-St. Louis, met privately with Sen. Ron Richard, R-Joplin, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Kurt Schaefer, and state Rep. Tom Flanigan, R-Carthage, on Tuesday to hash out details of the proposal.
Lamping said he feels that appropriating money in the budget would be a much better way of funding the projects than the state giving up the local state tax revenue via what was being called a super TIF district. Lamping said there is money available in the budget now because the state has brought in more general revenue than previously expected.
“What they’re asking for is the next 23 years of revenues,” Lamping said. “We’re saying we’re not going to be here for 23 years, we’re going to be here for two to five years, so we’re committed to getting this done now.”
Flanigan, who proposed the state super TIF district earlier this year, said Wednesday that Lamping’s idea is one of many the small group of lawmakers is considering as it looks for the best way for the state to help fund redevelopment projects.
“That whole thing is evolving,” Flanigan said. “We’re in a legislative process trying to hammer out what is best for Joplin and what is best for the budget. This thing is fluid — the most fluid thing I’ve been involved with in the Legislature.”
Flanigan said that regardless of what legislators agree upon, something will be passed this year to fund Joplin recovery.
“We’re not stuck on anything,” he said. “Everybody has to be on board. We’re still working this out.”
Joplin’s city attorney, Brian Head, traveled to Jefferson City to testify on Tuesday in favor of the proposal.
David Wallace, CEO of Wallace Bajjali Development Partners, which is working as Joplin’s contracted master developer, said Sen. Eric Schmitt, chairman of the Senate’s economic development committee, “wanted to propose something in committee that is a simplified version” of the aid sought by Joplin toward $806 million in redevelopment projects.
The city has approved a local TIF district that encompasses the tornado zone and much of the center and north sections of the city, including downtown, to generate a portion of the funding for the project. The overall TIF plans were projected to produce about $57 million. If a state TIF or “super TIF” district were enacted, it would have captured almost $16 million toward the $57 million.
Wallace said telephone conferences were held on Tuesday to discuss the proposal to simplify the aid to Joplin.
He also said his firm’s legislative affairs consultant analyzed the proposal, and the conclusion was that by forgoing the legal costs and other expenses of setting up and administering a state TIF district, “we would be better off with the grant of $15 million.”
“There is still a lot of discussion that needs to take place (along with consultation with the governor), but we saw it as something that Joplin needs,” Wallace said.
Globe staff writer Debby Woodin contributed to this report.
Flanigan’s bill, which passed the House late last month, has been placed on hold in the Senate as lawmakers privately deliberate over how to move forward.