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Fidelity Security Life Insurance Request for Incentives Testimony: Councilman Barnes Insults Citizen

Following is the written transcript taken from the testimony given in opposition to incentives for Fidelity Security Life by a resident within the boundaries of the proposed project and also someone with experience in Economic Development and how incentives should be used.


In a rare display of poor ethics, Councilman Barnes not only interrupts this citizens rightful testimony but then follows up with insults to the testimony.

Hi Ruben Alonso 2953 Grand. I do actually live in the Union Hill neighborhood residence, and support and agree with all the comments that my neighbors and the other folks testifying, provided today. Although I am here to actually speak in my role as President of AltCap at CDFI, although not necessarily speaking for AltCap, but based on my experience running an economic development organization like AltCap, which is a community development financial institution, as well as being in the economic development field in Kansas City for the last 10-12 years.


So I want to talk specifically about what AltCap does to invest in economically distressed communities supporting real estate projects, businesses, through a federal tax credit program called the New Markets Tax Credit Program. We use that program to finance catalytic real estate development projects, job-creating businesses, in Kansas city's most economically distressed communities.


[Councilman Barnes, interrupting citizen] Mr. Alonso, what does that have to do with this ordinance here?


[Mr. Alonso] Well, I want to point out that every time you approve a city or local municipal incentive for a project on a site like this, which is probably one of the most prime redevelopment of development sites in all of Kansas city, you risk de-motivating developers from developing in our communities that need investment.


This is not economic development. This is moving cherries around in the pie, not growing the pie and this is also quite frankly corporate subsidization, to support all the points that were made before me.


So I think from a policy perspective I wanted to share with you why AltCap has been very successful getting investors, getting developers, to develop in our most economically distressed census tracks, because of the scarcity of the New Markets Tax Program Incentive.


We do not use incentives to build on the plaza, or to help development on the plaza, or downtown, or on a site like this. We make that resource scarce to motivate and to support policy objectives that we have to increase investment in economic [microphone muted]


[Clerk, who controls the zoom] Mr. Alonso?


[Councilman Barnes] We're back up?


[Clerk] Yes.


[Councilman Barnes] I'll just simply state, I don't think any of us sitting here need a lecture or an education from you on how we need to incentivize projects. Um, I'll just leave that at that.


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