A St. Louis citizens group wants the city to be more transparent when it comes to tax incentives.
Team TIF is asking the city's Board of Aldermen to pass three proposals and has even drafted the language:
- Require all tax increment financing or tax abatement applications be posted online at least 10 business days before public hearings.
- Include all potential revenue gains or losses on TIF and tax abatement projects.
- Record all public meetings, including those of the TIF Commission and the Land Reutilization Authority, either with video or audio.
Team TIF’s Glenn Burleigh said the goal is to make information about tax incentives more available to citizens.
“It’s just so the general public has the ability to look over this stuff," Burleigh said. “It’s a lot of tax money.”
The group did not approach specific aldermen with the legislation but rather first released the proposals publicly and then sent them to each member of the board.
Alderman Cara Spencer, 20th Ward, said she’s interested.
“I think what Team TIF is proposing are good-governance policies that we see in other cities,” Spencer wrote in an email. “I am supportive and considering sponsoring, along with a few of my colleagues.”
Otis Williams, executive director of the St. Louis Development Corporation, said his agency would do whatever the law requires. But he said the requirement for posting applications online 10 days before meetings could cause delays.
“It’s something to consider, but if the consideration is to mandate a time frame that we put it up, it will cause a delay to some offers. They’ll end up moving a month later probably,” Williams said.
He said his staff often is reviewing properties in the days before members of the Land Reutilization Authority vote on whether to sell LRA-owned land.
Williams said the LRA is working to become more transparent following a study done on the agency. Right now, he said, the agency is working to collect more data from those who receive tax incentives.
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