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MAYOR: Development
must not bring tax hike

by Alan McArthur
Landmark reporter

Platte City's continual focus has been on developing the property on the east side of Interstate 29. This focus is now the primary objective facing the city.

During a State of the City address last week, Frank Offutt, mayor, told a crowd at the Platte City Lions Club that the city will now be devoting its efforts toward encouraging the development within five years. Importantly, the mayor pledged any development would have to be done without an increase in taxes or fees upon current businesses and residents.

Platte City recently competed the Community Improvement Program to rebuild many streets and curbs around the city. The program also included purchasing the new civic center at Fourth Street and 92 Highway and renovating the facility for the public safety and parks departments. Another completed project was to run waterlines to the area east of the Interstate.

There are still a number of steps to be completed before any construction can begin. The city is looking at several different options for providing sewer services to the area east of I-29.

Offutt said the city has nearly $10 million in its coffers to help cover some costs of running the sewer lines. The city has already approached the Missouri Department of Transportation, about digging under the highway to allow the area to be connected into the city's current sewer system.

Another challenge is developing a mechanism to entice developers to invest in the Platte City area. The days of developers footing the entire bill for a construction project are long gone, according to Offutt.

“We are not going to attract any commercial development without some city participation,” said Offutt.

Some of the ways to attract development could be through special taxing districts set up to fund construction with payments from the areas on the east side of the interstate, he said.

One option is a Transportation Development District, TDD, which collects an extra percentage on sales tax or property assessment to fund road and infrastructure construction. Another possible option could be through a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district which would divert some sales tax revenue into paying for construction projects with the development area.

Platte City has experience with some special taxing districts already. There is currently a TDD in place to fund road improvements in the Platte Valley Plaza development with the Price Chopper as the anchor tenant.

Offutt said the city is also seeking to have the area designated an Enhanced Enterprise Zone (EEZ). The EEZ could allow businesses locating to the area to be eligible for tax credits from the state or city for bringing jobs to the area.

The goal of the city is to ensure residents will not have to pay more in taxes or fees in order to spur the growth in the area.

“We are only going to move forward with financial development options without impacts on taxes and fees for current residents,” said Offutt.

According to Offutt, two current businesses in Platte City have already approached the city about expanding their businesses by moving to the east side of I-29. Offutt said he is also in talks with several landowners to possibly be voluntarily annexed into the city.

Offutt would not reveal the names of the businesses or landowners because the city is negotiating the matters.

The possible development could consist of several tiers, according to Offutt. The area closest to the highway could consist of commercial pad sites. The next tier would be a light industrial area and a third tier could consist of multi-family residences.

No matter how the final plats are laid out, Offutt said he would like to see construction begin within five years.

The only area available for the city to expand is the property to the east of the interstate. Offutt pointed out the land to the west of the city is in the flood plain, Tracy borders the city to the north and Kansas City is along the southern border.

“With the opportunities east of I-29, we can sustain Platte City into the future,” he said.