The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.
Two weeks ago I wrote about the attempt to get in our pockets by people doing the Hawthorne Development. Since then, I've read the proposal and attended a City Council Meeting. It's worse than I thought!
The developer already has a $2.4 million tax break called a Neighborhood Improvement District. Now, he wants a direct taxpayer subsidy of $6.4 million, called a Transportation Development District (TDD), to be paid by those who shop at Warrensburg's Wal-Mart. He wants to use this money to pay for all the commercial streets, bury the power lines, and add a walking trail. He even wants the TDD to buy the right-of-way for the streets, to the tune of $410,000. He owns the land, he's putting in streets for his own benefit, and he want us to pay for the land under the streets!
Remember how angry people all around the country got when the Supreme Court ruled that a city could take peoples' homes and give them to a developer? All around the country laws are being changed to limit that misuse of eminent domain. Here in Missouri, a developer can get a city to vote to take money from a lot of people and give it to the developer. Same principle. We should be angry about this, too.
How bad is it? We don't have a voice. If the developer can get Wal-Mart to agree to join the TDD, the City has no say and we pay. If the developer gets the City to back the TDD, then Wal-Mart will be included even if it doesn't want to be - and we pay.
The City Council will vote on the TDD on August 22nd. Here's what YOU can do between now and then: Contact any City Council member and tell him/her you don't want to pay for an out-of-town company's development; tell him/her that Council approval will jeopardize future projects. Contact Wal-Mart and tell them you donít want to pay extra to shop there. Get up a neighborhood petition against the TDD and give a copy to Wal-Mart management and to the City. Make up your own yard sign that says "No to 'Wal-Mart tax'." Attend the City Council Meeting and say your piece. Then, after we stop this money grab, tell your legislators you want the law changed.
If we don't act, we pay. It's time to throw the tea into the harbor.
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