by Alan McArthur and
The Platte County R-3 School Board on Monday night reached a preliminary agreement with the City of Kansas City in regards to proposed legislation which would abate taxes on property owned by KCI.
The new agreement would mean the school district would be paid nine cents per square foot of a building's footprint instead of the initially offered eight cents from the city.
The agreement also will allow the district to have an opportunity after 10 years to evaluate the payments and renegotiate the rate.
The R-3 School District has been in negotiations with Kansas City since February to get a better rate.
"Right now the board has reached an agreement in principle with the city," said Bob Shaw, board president. "Our lawyers haven't reviewed any documents yet."
The city had initially offered the district eight cents and the district counter offered with 22 cents. The tentative agreement is for the district to receive nine cents per square foot.
Monday night’s handshake deal came after State Rep. Jason Brown had hosted a negotiating meeting between R-3 Superintendent Dr. Mark Harpst, R-3 attorney Scott Campbell (sitting in for John Cady) and Chris Byrd, attorney for the city of Kansas City on Friday afternoon.
“The Friday meeting was very positive and reopened the door for negotiating a mutually agreeable settlement. I would like to compliment the school board on choosing to support these family-sustaining jobs in our county and for standing with me on this important development and job creation opportunity,” Brown remarked this week.
Sources close to the negotiations told The Landmark that at the close of Friday’s session it appeared eight cents would be the top offer to R-3. Sources also said R-3 officials were upset the amount being offered to their district is less than the 10 cents being offered to Park Hill.
The agreement in principle for nine cents that was reached Monday night apparently was an attempted compromise.
“Today it was explained to me that a deal in principle has been reached and the (R-3) school board is no longer opposed to the Jobs Bill (House Bill 1836). I am glad both sides decided on renegotiating toward a win for all of Platte County instead of stonewalling or seeking court action. This agreement will help to ease the current pain of area job losses and a crumbling housing market,” Brown said Tuesday.
“I believe that airport development will be a major economic engine driving our area,” Brown added.
The majority of development planned around KCI is slated to be constructed to the south, in the Park Hill School District.
"At this point they don't have any projects yet," said Shaw. "The only project in the district is the race track. We don't have Bombardier or Trammel Crow.”
The proposed race track would be located along the west side of the airport near I-435. Trammel Crow is the development company expected to build warehousing facilities on airport property.
House Bill 1836 was proposed by District 30 Representative Jason Brown, of Platte City, and District 34 Representative Timothy Flook. The bill would abate the taxes normally placed on development at the airport for nearly 6,000 acres the city plans to develop.
According to Christopher Byrd, lawyer representing Kansas City, the language included in HB 1836 has also been tacked onto several other bills, one of which has moved to the Senate floor for discussion.
On April 10, the R-3 school board officially signed a resolution in opposition to the bill after failing to receive any communications from the city regarding negotiations. The resolution was crafted by representatives of both the R-3 and Park Hill School Districts during a closed session meeting before the R-3 board approved the resolution.
R-3 officials early in the process had said accepting an offer of eight cents per square foot would be “devastating” to the school district. Brown criticized an appearance and testimony by Harpst in Jefferson City in opposition to the bill.
The Park Hill School Board again took no action on a resolution concerning the KCI development.
The board had before it a resolution with an option to either support legislation or be opposed to the legislation.
The Park Hill School District is currently being offered 10 cents per square foot in addition to the Bombardier plant, which may provide nearly $2 million a year to the district.