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Kansas City Mayor's Proposal To Cut Development Incentives Meets Resistance

A Kansas City council committee began debate this week on Mayor Sly James's proposal to reduce tax abatement for developers. The ordinance he proposed would reduce the maximum for developers from 100 percent to 50 percent.

Concerns were immediately raised by some business and economic development leaders and several council members that cutting back on tax breaks would cast a pall over development, and businesses would build in competing communities.

Mayor James said he had expected resistance, and his commitment isn't to the 50 percent maximum, but rather to getting a new, better incentives policy that will end the conflicts and controversies that now surround the issue.

“It may not look like anything that I've introduced in this ordinance," said James of the outcome he hopes for, "and I'm fine with that so long as it's a solution that everybody can agree on."

At present, various groups involved are far from in agreement.

School and library districts have often objected to city leaders negotiating away tax revenues they would share in. And some taxpayers complain that the city gives away revenues that could go for city services. Businesses often say the expense of new projects means they can't get built without subsidies.

Lawyers for developers say they will get their heads together and weigh in, possibly this week.

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