LS council approves subsidy for Price Chopper

rpulley@lsjournal.comApril 10, 2013 

  • More information $1.1 million, amount dropped from reimbursement to be made for development at Todd George Parkway and U.S. 50

Developers of a proposed Price Chopper and other retail stores at U.S. 50 and Todd George Parkway won approval by slashing the amount of tax subsidy they were seeking.

The Lee’s Summit City Council voted 7-1 to approve a revamped plan that cut more than $1.1 million from expenses that would have been reimbursed by tax-increment financing. The previous request had been rejected by the council.

The TIF reimbursement will be capped at about $2.6 million for infrastructure. The council also approved a community improvement district for the development that will levy a half-cent sales tax collecting slightly more than $1.2 million to help the developer with expenses.

Ball Foods Inc. and West Star Co. asked the city to amend the East U.S. 50 Highway Corridor Tax-Increment Financing District to help it with site costs, including an oversized storm-water basin that would help prevent neighborhoods north of the project from flooding.

The TIF district had been approved by the city in 2007 to finance interchange improvements for U.S. 50 at Todd George Parkway and build an interchange at Blackwell Road and outer roads.

Council member Dave Mosby voted against the TIF amendment and improvement district. In an interview, Mosby said the subsidy was still too high for a project that wouldn’t bring a significant number of new jobs and because amounts of new sales tax would be limited.

“We’re giving away the farm for a grocery,” Mosby said.

Under the amendment, the developers would build a 68,000-square-foot store and 33,000-square-foot strip center with additional pad sites that will likely be a bank and fast-food restaurant.

Council member Brian Whitley, one of the council members to change his vote to yes, said he and Councilman Bob Johnson met with the developer West Star Co. Inc.

“They came back with a number in line with our expectations,” Whitley said. He said that the developer also dropped requests for reimbursements of costs that he philosophically opposed.

Johnson said he was supporting the revised subsidy because of the storm-water basin, which is larger than the improvement required by the actual development. It would help run-off problems in neighborhoods immediately north and farther away such as Prairie Lee Lake.

“That’s a real, legitimate public expense,” Johnson said.

Johnson also successfully proposed a further amendment to the TIF, which is divided into four project areas, so that no taxes from West Star Co.’s development will be used on the Blackwell Road interchange. The city is to begin processing that amendment within 90 days.

Johnson’s amendment, unanimously approved by the council, also called for new taxes generated by the Price Chopper development to instead be used to more quickly reimburse the developer. Accelerating the payments would save some money on interest for the TIF bonds. The amendment does not affect the amount of taxes going to the school district under the original TIF plan.

“The more rapidly we pay it off, the more rapidly the city can get the full sales tax,” Johnson said.

Under Johnson’s amendment, the TIF area surrounding Price Chopper would end in six years instead of an estimated 12 to 16 years, said Finance Director Conrad Lamb. Then tax revenues will go to the city, schools, county and other jurisdictions instead of the TIF, he said.

City Manager Steve Arbo told the council that the project area No. 1, which includes Lee’s Summit Medical Center, would still raise enough money to pay for the Blackwell interchange independent of the Price Chopper.

That’s because of a related agreement with the Missouri Department of Transportation where that agency will pay for about 50 percent of the $25 million cost for the Blackwell interchange and outer road improvements for Blue Parkway and Oldham Parkway, which are outer roads parallel to the highway.

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