JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A coalition of labor leaders and management are lobbying lawmakers to change the way Tax Increment Financing funds are handed out, and they’ve got two legislative heavy-hitters carrying the bill.
Rep. Anne Zerr, R-St. Charles, chairs the House Economic Development Committee, and says the legislation is a “high priority” for her in 2014. In the upper chamber, Senate Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, is carrying the language.
House Bill 1512 looks to create a compromise between local municipalities and countywide TIF commissions when both entities disagree on the awarding of a TIF.
Under current law, both municipalities and TIF commissions vote on whether or not to grant TIF funds to new businesses. If a TIF commission denies the funds but a local city approves them by a 2/3 majority, the TIF funds are still disbursed.
HB 1512 would allow municipalities to override TIF commissions, but would only allow funds to be disbursed under such circumstances for the specific purpose of demolishing old buildings and the clearing and grading of land. Effectively, the bill would prohibit large sums of money to be handed out for the construction of a business if the TIF commission and the city cannot agree.
“I look at this as a compromise we need,” Zerr said. “We want to create new dollars, not just allow a business to move from one community to another and move revenue around.”
Zerr said that under current law, a business could move to a neighboring city and receive city-approved TIF funds against the will of the commission. Under those circumstances, some entities not represented by the city government would still be contributing tax dollars to the TIF.
“There’s bleed-over in our taxed entities and districts, so technically a city can vote to do something and collect money for that purpose from entities not under the purview of that city, even if the commission representing the entity voted against giving out the funds,” Zerr said.
The Mid-America Retail Food Industry Joint Labor-Management Committee (JLMC) is currently pushing the bill. Representatives from the 3 major grocery store chains in Missouri came to the Capitol to lobby on behalf of the bill along with representatives from the Teamsters Union and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.
Scott Schnuck, President and CEO of Schnucks, Eric Hymas, President of Shop N Save and Brent Beumer, Director of Real Estate for Dierbergs all came to Jefferson City to press lawmakers to “level the playing field,” for businesses receiving TIF’s.
“Labor and management partnerships are always the best thing for Missourians,” Zerr said. “Both sides have something to offer. Management knows they need the skilled workers to make them more efficient and labor knows they need effective management to get employment. They can bargain in good faith and, when the need is there, they can come together and use their shared resources, and that’s what we are seeing on this bill.”
Zerr says she plans to hear the bill as early as next Tuesday’s meeting of her Economic Development committee.
Collin Reischman was the Managing Editor for The Missouri Times, and a graduate of Webster University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.