St. Louis Public Radio News
6:54 pm
Fri June 11, 2010

Peabody tax breaks tabled, for now

St. Louis, MO – The St. Louis Board of Aldermen tabled a bill Friday that would provide a package of tax breaks to keep Peabody Energy based in downtown.

The game of corporate brinksmanship involves Peabody threatening to relocate from downtown if it doesn't qualify for a package of millions in personal property tax abatements.

Jeffery Ordower is part of a citizens group that says the city can't afford to keep undercutting its tax base.

"This is how the corporations are playing it, they're holding a gun to the city's head," says Ordower. "They're saying, we might move, we might not, give us the money and then we'll let you know what we're going to do.' This is the wrong way to do business."

Alderwoman Phyllis Young is sponsoring a bill that would direct millions of dollars in tax abatements to help Peabody pay for facilities upgrades.

In terms of tax revenue, Young says the city stands to come out way ahead on the deal.

"It's the same deal that we had with Wellpoint when they moved into the building down across from Union Station," says Young. "It's the same deal that we had with Polsinelli when they expanded their location at what was MCI. I think this is a very sure thing (for taxpayers)."

Young expects the bill to come to a vote before the July recess.

A spokesman for the mayor's office says the deal offered to Peabody will not hurt tax revenue, and city taxpayers and downtown businesses stand to benefit tremendously by keeping the city's last Fortune 500 company downtown.