Old Drum Network
An Alternative News Source for Warrensburg and Johnson County Missouri
Other Taxing Issues - Transportation Development District "Wal-Mart tax"
Statement to the City Council
Statement regarding Hawthorne Development TDD
August 29, 2005.
I'm Bill Wayne, Chairman of the Johnson County Libertarian Party
I have had a chance to look at the details of the agreements as of 10 AM this morning. There are several details that, unless changed by a later draft, I find disturbing.
I oppose this tax on 3 grounds:
- One section of the agreement puts a restrictive covenant on the property; it does not allow any large discount stores, department stores, or grocery stores that would compete with Wal-Mart. While this may be legal, it certainly restricts possible competition for Wal-Mart, given the limited number of attractive locations for a big box store.
- In several areas, the agreement allows for the possibility of expanding the TDD area or increasing the tax rate with the consent of Wal-Mart; those who pay the tax would not have the opportunity to dissent. Changes can be made even without the consent of Wal-Mart if the developer pays $250,000 liquidated damages.
- This tax could last as long as 20 years (until the $6.4 million is raised or 12/31/2025), inhibiting the ability of real government agencies to use sales tax to meet critical government needs.
It has been said that the parties to this agreement are simply doing what is allowed by state law. That is true, but many things that are legal are not moral or ethical. I think this agreement crosses that line.
- It is unfair to local developers who have paid for their own improvements.
- It is unfair to existing business owners who must compete without tax subsidies.
- It is doubly unfair to Wal-Mart customers who will have to pay more for what they buy, while Wal-Mart will be protected from new competition.
One small consolation; A TDD is a "political subdivision of the state" and as thus should be subject to the Sunshine Law.
Some additional background
See also Gadfly 301, Gadfly 303, Gadfly 304, Gadfly 305, Gadfly 306and my statement to the City Council meeting on August 4th.
- The proposal includes the Hawthorne development and Wal-Mart only. It does not affect any other businesses in that area.
- It pays for "infrastructure" - all streets - the a walking trail, 1/2 of burying the power lines and right-of-way have been eliminated from the project and other changes have been made to benefit access to Wal-Mart.
- The TDD is for $6.4 million. The developer has already received a tax break for a Neighborhood Improvement District for $2.4 million.
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