by Michael R. Allen
Yesterday, the Special Committee on Job Creation and Economic Development of the Missouri House of Representatives unanimously voted to pass with “do pass” recommendation the economic development omnibus (HB 1). The bill contains the Distressed Areas Land Assemblage Tax Credit Act, the tax credit program for large-scale land assembly targeted at areas with low-income populations.
Although the version passed from committee contained one modification, the tax credit act would still be of dubious benefit to distressed areas like north St. Louis. The committee unanimously agreed to an amendment by Rep. Rodney Hubbard (D-58th) to strengthen the provisions about municipal approval of redevelopment ordinances to stipulate that the municipal governing body must approve the redevelopment plan by ordinance. While the act may have already implied that approval, it was not explicit.
However, without adopting other changes, the committee released an act that will still likely be of use to only one developer, Paul J. McKee, Jr. The committee rejected two other amendments by Hubbard. One would cap the project size at 30 acres while assigning the credit for assembly of anything over two acres within. Another would require the applicant to hold prior to application three public meetings where site plans would be displayed. These were reasonable changes. No one offered any other amendments, despite the fact that without development timetable and recapture provisions even the smallest developer could end up getting the credit without ever developing a single parcel of land.
Hopefully, legislators will consider further changes on the House floor and in the Senate next week. The trouble with the current version is that there are no substantial changes in availability of the credits but there is tighter control by local elected bodies like the Board of Aldermen. That’s not exactly the outcome that critics of the proposal are seeking.