Tax Abatement in Kansas City: Time for Common Sense Reform
On October 25, 2018 the Coalition for Kansas City Economic Development Reform (CKCEDR) filed a petition entitled “Petition Initiative to establish a policy for capping the amount of Ad Valorem Real Property taxes that may be utilized in furtherance of certain economic development projects”. On November 16, 2018 the petition was certified and on November 29, 2018 it was presented to the City Council by the clerk.
This initiative takes a vital public issue out of City Hall’s back rooms, and puts the matter in the hands of voters to be decided democratically. Kansas City grants larger and longer-term tax abatement subsidies than nearly any other city. For decades, Kansas City has carried out a massive transfer of tax funds away from voter-approved public services. This was done in the name of economic development and downtown revitalization. Now, downtown revitalization has been achieved. Yet City Hall continues to call our most expensive neighborhoods ‘blighted’ in order to give developers massive subsidies for “luxury amenities.” Property tax dollars were approved by voters for public services including schools, mental health care, disability services, libraries, the blind pension, and community colleges. Kansas City’s approach to tax incentives is unfair to our citizens. CKCEDR is responding to these abuses with common-sense economic development reform. Under our plan, development subsidies in stable areas may apply for a still-generous property tax abatement of 50%, while incentives for continuously blighted areas will not change; they will continue to be eligible to apply for 100% property tax abatement.
Citizens are sending City Hall a clear message: Stop tax abatement abuses. Kansas Citians agree: It is time to invest in a future that includes all of us. Let’s quit using public services to subsidize luxury high rises and instead, focus economic development on blight, as the law intends. It’s time for tax incentives to support quality education, create jobs for working families, build affordable homes and fix our crumbling streets.
It’s time for accountability and common-sense economic development reform. We'll be looking for volunteers as we begin the job of informing voters.