Bravo Hotel Tax Incentives - Testimony: Angie Lile with KCPS District Advisory Committee
Thank you Chairman Barnes and committee for hearing my testimony.
My name is Angie Lile and I am a 6th District Resident and community leader in the Waldo Neighborhood, as well as a parent in the Kansas City Public School District and a volunteer with KC TIF Watch, so of course I support their position as testified.
I also come to you today as the Chair of the Kansas City Public Schools District Advisory Committee. That's a group of stakeholders in the district whose primary goal is to ensure that all students living in the district get an equitable experience.
My testimony today is, of course, in opposition to incentives for this project, but also to the original TIF commission meeting where several of us attended to get the details and to find out why they needed public incentives to build it.
As a public-school parent who once had a great deal of respect for the Kauffman foundation and all they have done for this city, I was appalled at the reasons being given which included, among other things, the fact that they had done so much for Kansas City, implying that our residents basically OWED them this request.
Not only that, but the request is far and above any normal request for incentives, 35% of project cost is unheard of and one of the reasons I believe the TIF Commission denied their request.
To add insult to injury, we had to listen to the applicant go on and on about the natural lighting and how there would be one elevator for each tower. They even admit that the contractor suggested the project would cost less if they didn’t need to direct light into different towers but that was not acceptable to the Kauffman’s , they deserve to have the proper the building, the hotel that they wanted, that was going to be next to the performing arts center, and that is not blighted property, has to have natural light throughout them.
I’m extremely disappointed that the Kauffman Foundation feels they are owed for the work they do, considering that the very idea of Philanthropy is that one doesn’t expect an ROI but instead focuses on the lives they touch and the future those lives will create.
So for example, one month ago, a young juvenile was apprehended in my neighborhood by police for stealing bicycles. That juvenile had a handgun with them, which illustrates just how easy it is for our young students to get their hands on a gun.
Our schools are starting to implement trauma informed practices because the gun violence in this city has basically impacted many of our students. We need to start implementing more conflict resolution training and other anger-management solutions to teach our young people that guns aren’t the solution.
Our public services need MORE funding, not less. We need to stop incentivizing luxury and start incentivizing a more peaceful, equitable and sustainable way of being.
If you think allowing a luxury hotel to be built for the rich while not having to pay their property taxes for 23 years won’t eventually increase our city’s rate of violence, you are mistaken.