Aldermen Cave and Pass $7 Million TIF to Help Laclede Gas Move Three Blocks
Despite Citizen Objections and Outcry, TIF Passes the HUDZ Committee
ST. LOUIS -- Today, the aldermen on the Housing, Urban Development and Zoning (HUDZ) Committee passed 6-1, with 1 abstention, the TIF package for Laclede Gas’ developer, the Koman Group, for the GenAmerica building. Alderwoman Phyllis Young was the sponsor of the bill. While HUDZ committee members had pledged opposition to the bill, only Alderwoman Tyus stood strong to vote against it.
Community members affiliated with Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE) testified at the hearing and asked alderpeople to vote ‘no’ on the proposal. Many cited conditions in Northside neighborhoods in comparison to development incentives going downtown as reasons for opposition.
“Alderwoman Young said that the GenAmerica building is so nice because you can see straight through the big windows. Well in historic North St. Louis where I live, I can see straight through the vacant lots, broken windows and derelict buildings. I am asking you all to think about who you represent here. We need tax money for our communities,” said Ann Shirley Crenshaw, of North St. Louis.
After weeks of growing opposition to the proposed Laclede TIF, the proposal was actually cut down from an $8.1 million TIF to a $7 million TIF. However, for many, the lack of accountability with these forms of incentives are the real problem - not the amount of money given.
“It is very concerning that our elected officials continue to side with big developers and corporations instead of with the people. That is exactly why we collected 36,000 signatures for the Take Back St. Louis initiative. Instead of continuing to attend hearings, we will be heading to the ballot box on April 8, 2014 to change this city’s development priorities. We want money for green jobs and projects on vacant lots,” said Reginald Rounds with MORE.
The Take Back St. Louis initiative would end public financial incentives to fossil fuel extraction companies or those doing $1 million of business with them, such as Laclede. It would also require the city to create a sustainable energy plan to open up money and land for renewable energy and sustainability initiatives. It will be up for public vote on April 8, 2014 according to the Board of Elections.