by Michael R. Allen
Once again, state Senator Yvonne Wilson (D-Kansas City) has offered a bill to reduce the acreage ownership requirement of the Distressed Areas Land Assemblage Tax Credit Act from 50 to 30 acres. This bill is SB 682 and was first read on January 6. Wilson’s past attempts to pass this bill have gone nowhere.
However, the bill certainly has merit. If the courts uphold the Distressed Areas Land Assemblage Tax Credit, and the legislature lacks the will to kill it, the credit should be reformed. Wilson and Kansas City lawmakers would like to use the credit to aid in a Kansas City redevelopment project. Why shouldn’t they be able to get the credit changed, if it is truly a public benefit law under the Missouri Constitution?
Of course, the premise of the tax credit remains as dangerous as it was when first proposed in 2007, and the effect of the type of real estate activity it encourages is terrible for struggling neighborhoods. The tax credit’s main beneficiary has spawned copycat buying across north St. Louis. All we have to show are lost buildings, vacant buildings and neighborhoods caught up in a broadly-drawn development project that may not ultimately include them. It’s bad public policy, plain and simple. It could be a little better, though.