Should the City use tax increment financing to encourage and target economic development? Is there a single rule that will cover every request for TIF assistance?
TIFs are not things I take lightly, but their underpinning is in common sense. If development does not occur, there are no new revenues to distribute to anyone.
That’s why I believe that each request we get for TIF must be analyzed individually, with attention to the type of development, the strength of the market in the location where the development is proposed, and the need for assistance. There is no blanket formula that covers the diversity of projects we see.
Over the past four years, based on this matrix, I have asked the TIF Commission to reject some proposals entirely; for other TIFs, I have recommended amounts of assistance substantially less than the developer requested.
My goal with all development incentives is to advance development in the City of St. Louis, bringing new residents and businesses, sales and other tax revenues; and to build the market for business and residential space in areas where such markets are depressed or where problem properties threaten the health of surrounding neighborhoods. TIFs (and tax abatement) are often necessary to ensure that development occurs in such areas and on such properties.
Without these incentives, the development would not occur in a timely manner, the City would wait years for economic activity at the site, and development momentum in the City would be threatened.
The City’s recent increase in population for the first time in 50 years is due, in large part, to the judicious and project-specific use of incentives.