JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – With just weeks before the scheduled end for the Governor’s Committee on Simple, Fair and Low Taxes, the members continue rolling through their weekly meetings, listening to guest presentations.
This week’s quorum of members heard testimony from several developers from St. Louis, Kansas City, and Springfield.
The group, led by Steve Stogel, a developer out of St. Louis who pioneered the use of tax credits in downtown St. Louis, spoke before the committee on historic preservation tax credits, an issue that Chairman Joel Walters said they needed to look into to see what, if any, changes or modifications could be made to improve the program or eliminate inefficiencies.
Stogel told the committee of how the federal and state credits have helped revitalize areas in the Show-Me State, noting that Missouri led the U.S. in the number of projects with St. Louis ranking number one.
“Real estate development takes time. The hard thing about historic development is that every building is a snowflake,” Stogel said. He noted that where a construction company building from scratch could just begin with new materials, a lot of the revitalized projects required work fixing already installed materials and replacing out of date materials and structures.
He argued that by revitalizing buildings, it, in turn, leads to more development in nearby vacant properties. Stogel added the historic credits were needed to protect those neighborhoods considered to be dilapidated or crumbling.
Former State Sen. Jason Crowell voiced his concerns about the tax credits, though, saying he could not understand why these developers and tax credits did not have to go through the appropriations process like others do.
“We live in a world with limited resources,” Crowell says. “Why can’t they go to Jefferson City and lobby like everyone else for what you want. Even a child’s access to autistic therapy is subject to the appropriations process.”
He referred to all of the presenters as developers, noting that developers benefit from the projects.
“I don’t understand why you all should get money before anyone else,” Crowell said.
Stogel replied that the developers take risks, put capital and time into the projects, saying that “seems to be a balanced risk.” He noted that not every developer succeeds.
“Imagine St. Louis as Newark,” he said. “It’s a tough business, but there are laws in place that provide access to the tax credits, and we’re here to talk about whether those laws should be sharpened or modified.”
Rep. Holly Rehder asked whether the other states with this type of tax credit have caps and were subject to annual appropriations. Stogel responded that some are uncapped, some do have caps, but that he didn’t know if they are subject to annual appropriations.
That presentation was followed by a short round of testimony from a representative from the Department of Agriculture. Walters noted that it had been added with short notice, saying that he had only texted new director Chris Chinn last Friday, giving them little time to put together a presentation.
The representative spoke to the committee about some of the tax credits available but said that they were still in the process of looking into them themselves, adding they would be willing to return and answer any questions about how they might be best modified or consolidated to better fit the state’s needs.
The committee still has one final town hall meeting to complete, this one being held on Wednesday, June 7 in Springfield.
Wednesday, June 7, 4:00-6:00 pm
Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce
Main Conference Room
202 South John Q. Hammons Pkway
Springfield, MO 65806
Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.