FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 28, 2013
Take Back St. Louis and MORE Demand Laclede Rescind Request for $8 Million TIF
Group Puts Pressure on Laclede and TIF Commissioners Ahead of Wednesday TIF Meeting
ST. LOUIS -- Today, a group of St. Louis citizens with Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE) and the Take Back St. Louis campaign gathered downtown to deliver a letter to Laclede Gas, asking the company to rescind its developer’s application for an $8 million TIF (tax increment financing) package to move three blocks downtown. The group presented Laclede with a large gas bill, illustrating the company’s $62 million in profit last year and chanted “we want our city green and healthy, no more tax breaks for the wealthy.” Police blocked all doors to the building and refused to take a letter to Laclede CEO Suzanne Sitherwood. The group also delivered letters to TIF Commissioners, urging them to vote down Laclede’s developer’s proposal at Wednesday’s TIF Commission hearing.
“Many of us worked for months to collect 36,000 signatures for the Take Back St. Louis initiative, which would stop this tax package for Laclede. 36,000 people think that we should vote on how the city does development. The TIF Commission and Laclede should delay any conversations about this $8 million TIF until the people get to vote,” said Reginald Rounds, a member of MORE.
The Take Back St. Louis initiative would change the charter of the city of St. Louis to end public financial incentives, including TIFs, to fossil fuel extraction companies and companies that do $1 million of business with extraction companies; Laclede falls into the latter category. The initiative also calls for a sustainable energy plan that opens up money and land for renewable energy and sustainability initiatives. The initiative is currently waiting to be placed on the ballot, presumably in 2014.
MORE and many other groups have called into question for years the city’s approach to development. This tax break package, which would consist of $8 million in tax increment financing and another $8 million in historic tax credits, would be for the GenAmerica building at 706 Market. Opponents contend that this is development practice is a ‘race to the bottom’ as shuffling jobs to Market St. would simply leave Laclede’s building on Olive vacant.
The group intends to be at the 8am Wednesday TIF Commission hearing at 1520 Market to testify further on why the TIF Commission should say no to the Laclede TIF proposal.
To read the letter delivered to TIF Commissioners: http://www.takebackstlouis.com/letter_to_tif_commissioners
To see photos from today’s action: http://www.flickr.com/photos/organizemo/sets/72157637058898024/