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R-3, developer reach verbal deal on paymentss
Cox Rabius offers to pay $133,000 per year to school

by Kim Fickett
Landmark reporter

Weeks of negotiations between Cox Rabius Development LLC, the developer of the proposed Shoppes at North Gate at I-29 and Main Street in Platte City, and the Platte County R-3 School District has led to an agreement in principle between the entities.

According to Developer Dina Cox and Superintendent Dr. Mark Harpst, they were able to reach an agreement that would satisfy everyone involved.

“We had final discussions and came to some final numbers,” said Harpst. “We agreed late yesterday (Thursday) on an amount of $133,000 a year. However, right now it’s just numbers and nothing has been final and nothing has been negotiated.”

Cox stated that the $133,000 will be a capital contribution to the school board for the life of the TIF (tax increment financing). The contribution plus current property tax revenue will equate to almost $2.8 million over 20 years.

“What we’ve been offering was for them to take advantage of a CID,” stated Cox. “They didn’t feel comfortable with that, so we’re doing it a different way, but it’s essentially the same amount. They won’t be getting their funds through a CID, instead they’ll be getting their funds through a capital contribution.”

It is still unclear how the funds would be acquired for the annual payment to the school district.

According to Harpst, Cox Rabius pointed to several options in their meetings.

“They talked about several different things and several possible revenue streams, but I don’t want to speak for them,” said Harpst.

Platte City Administrator Keith Moody stated while nothing has been confirmed with Cox Rabius, he believes the developer may still implement a CID on the development if it’s approved by the board of aldermen.

The CID could consist of a special sales tax of as much as 1% on retail purchases made within the development.

“I presume that’s what they will do,” said Moody. “I haven’t actually confirmed that with Dina. They could use an additional property or sales tax-they’ve talked about using an additional sales tax.”

For several weeks, the school district’s argument in opposition to the TIF has revolved around a loss in potential property tax revenue, as well as the establishment of a precedent among other developers who will come into the district in the future.

Now Harpst says this potential agreement with the developer holds promise for the district.

“We didn’t (give up our property tax for the next 23 years),” said Harpst. “This (capital contribution) is based on the property tax and it’s better than the property tax because it’s a guaranteed amount.

“First, with property tax there’s no guarantee whoever’s paying property tax will pay it and second if someone would come in and develop that area, you don’t know what would be developed,” he continued.

As reported in previous issues of The Landmark, Harpst said the school district would need to be guaranteed $150,000-$156,000 per year from the project to make it economically feasible for the district.

After making that statement and potentially reaching an agreement with Cox Rabius, Harpst told The Landmark on Friday: “I’m pleased with the $133,000 a year. We pushed hard to get where we were.

“If the agreement comes about and we get that amount, it will be an excellent deal for the school district and it will accomplish what we set out to in the beginning,” said Harpst, "which is the equivalent amount of taxes and we don’t give away tax dollars through the TIF. Instead we’re going to get a flat amount for 20 years.”

Harpst said he doesn’t believe the district crumbled to the developer.

“Anybody that looks at it that way is missing something. I see it as nothing but a positive. I’m just hopeful that it all comes about. It’s a long way from becoming a done deal,” he stated.

Attorneys from both sides will be working out the details of a potential pact, Cox and Harpst both indicated.

Harpst feels like the district received exactly what it had set out to do in the beginning.

“We got what we wanted. We got the equivalent of property tax and we’re outside the TIF,” said Harpst. “We’re not having anything TIFed and we’re realizing the full revenue.”

Harpst explained that R-3 currently has two other agreements similar to the one that may be reached with Cox Rabius, pointing to Harley-Davidson and Barry Towne.

“It’s business as usual as far as the way we did other TIF’s,” he stated.

R-3 board member Trish Stinnett said she feels the district was forced to make a decision because city officials were determined to see this project happen.

“I felt as though we were backed into a corner and given an ultimatum,” said Stinnett. “I believe regardless of the majority vote by the TIF Commission, the City of Platte City supported the TIF and we risked getting nothing for our schools. The choice we made was what was best for our school district, not necessarily what was best for the other entities. I felt a moral obligation to do what was best for our students.”

Fellow board member Mary Temperelli stated she also felt the Shoppes at North Gate proposal may continue through to development despite R-3’s initial opposition.

“I thought it was possible that things would possibly proceed without any agreement being reached with us losing out and I felt like we should reach an agreement while we still had an opportunity to do that,” said Temperelli.


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