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Public questions TIF proposal at open hearing
by Kim Fickett
Landmark reporter

Residents of Platte City gathered at a public hearing on Tuesday night for their first chance to air support or concerns for the proposed Shoppes at North Gate development at the intersection of HH Hwy (Main Street) and NW Prairie View Road.

The public hearing was held during the meeting of the TIF (Tax Increment Financing) Commission, which is currently in consideration of the proposed $16.6 million commercial development that would sit on approximately 7.65 acres at the end of Main Street near I-29. Cox- Rabius Development, LLC is requesting the use of a TIF to fund the Shoppes at North Gate project.

The public hearing was opened by TIF Commission Chair and City Attorney Keith Hicklin. Bill Moore, a representative for Cox-Rabius, addressed the commission asking if the public hearing could be opened and remain open, continuing the hearing to a future date.

According to Moore, because negotiations are still ongoing with certain taxing entities—such as the R-3 School District—the developer was hoping to have more time to resolve the issues.

“We would request the TIF commission would continue the hearing to a future date,” said Moore. “We are talking to the school district and trying to come up with ideas to address their concerns. I think if we have three more weeks that will give us time to tweak those issues.”

Moore also indicated that Cox- Rabius has agreed to delete KC Bobcat from the application and the proposed redevelopment area, stating that KC Bobcat’s connection to the development didn’t play a major part in the Shoppes at North Gate.

In a presentation from the architect of the Shoppes at North Gate, members of the TIF Commission were asked to share three hard copies of the slide presentation, while members of the audience were asked to look at the presentation on a laptop computer in the middle of the room.

During the presentation, it was indicated that the “proposed site was a major entry point into Platte City” and it was shown how the development would look from different views.

After the architect’s brief presentation, the public hearing commenced with life-long resident Gene Palmer addressing the TIF Commission.

“What I hear around town is that most people don’t understand the mechanism of this TIF,” stated Palmer. “If this presentation tonight is any indication as to the capabilities of this developer, then it’s very disappointing.”

TIF Commission attorney Doug Patterson addressed Palmer’s comments.

“It’s a simple three letter word but is complicated,” said Patterson.

“If the property qualifies for a TIF— and in this case it’s a blighted area—then the developer can submit a plan that freezes the existing property taxes and if the area is doing retail, can freeze the existing sales taxes. The developer not only has to come up with money for the development, they also have to come up with money for the blighted area.”

Patterson continued to explain that TIF helps fund the costs of the developer by repaying them through the use of a TIF for the stabilization and work to the blighted area. Patterson indicated that current estimates show that the developer is looking for TIF assistance on $6.4 million of the total $16.7 million project. The $6.4 million is before interest fees, which are estimated at 6.5%.

Though the TIF can be extended up to 23 years, the developer hopes the $6.4 million can be paid back within 14 years.

Platte City resident Peggy Miller also addressed the commission with her concerns for the project.

“I would like everyone to think about why this area is a blighted area,” said Miller. “It has never been a money-making area. You can’t see the corner from either direction of I-29.”

Miller told the commission how she has watched many businesses come and go in that area due to its location.

Platte County Director of Administration Dana Babcock—who was sitting in for county representative Treasurer Bonnie Brown—referenced Miller’s statement when she asked Cox exactly how many tenants the proposed development has on board.

“It’s a but-for,” said Cox. “I have to know that I’m going to be able to build it. If I don’t have a TIF, I can’t build it," indicating that deals with any tenants wouldn't be finalized unless the TIF is approved.

At the conclusion of the public hearing, the TIF Commission entered into a work session where their questions were answered by the developer.

The developer indicated that the members of the commission could have the TIF plan in front of them next week for inspection, as well as city hall for the public’s viewing. That plan is what the commission will be asked to vote on. The commission only makes a recommendation. It was a pointed out the final decision on whether to approve the TIF deal will rest with the city's board of aldermen.

“The developer indicated the county’s portion of the 3/8 cent roads tax and 1/2 cent parks tax will be included in the proposal until they (those taxes) sunset, is that correct?” questioned Babcock. “So this set of plans we will receive is what you expect the commission to vote on, correct?”

Moore stated that the plan did include the county’s portion of those taxes until they sunset in five and seven years and informed the commission they will be asked to vote on the new plan set before them.

“I’m representing Bonnie here tonight, but as I have indicated in discussions with Bonnie and Presiding Commissioner Betty Knight, we have grave concerns over the parks and roads taxes being included in the TIF,” said Babcock.

“Those are dedicated taxes that the county feels are in a different category than our general revenue. We went to the residents and asked them to dedicate taxes to certain areas,” stated Babcock. “We feel a need to see those commitments (made to voters) through.”

Babcock indicated that unlike Platte City, which has already received its $1.5 million in road money from the county road tax, there are other entities that have not received their share of the county's road tax money and may be slighted on projects with the implementation of this TIF.

“We’re just like the school district who will most likely go back in front of those voters and ask for another dedicated tax. A lot of it is principle and following through with what you promised,” said Babcock.

Platte County R-3 Superintendent Dr. Mark Harpst reiterated the district’s support for the project, but stated that his board came together unanimously to oppose the proposed use of a TIF to fund the redevelopment of the area using property taxes.

“We want to be a partner,” said Harpst. “At the same time you need to understand our position that we are partners with other cities in our district and we are a part of other TIFs that have (not captured the school's property taxes).

Harpst added, “75% of our constituency does not live within the City of Platte City.”

According to Harpst, the school district would need to be guaranteed $150-156,000 per year from the project to make it economically feasible for the district.

Harpst summed up the district’s preference of that revenue by stating he’d like to see it come from property taxes. Harpst explained that the district would be able to rely on that revenue because of “stability," referencing property taxes as more stable sources of revenue than projected and estimated sales tax from a proposed development.

The TIF Commission set its next meeting for Thursday, Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. at city hall, where the public hearing will be continued and a more formal and in-depth presentation on the Shoppes at North Gate will be given.



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