Opponents of tax breaks for the proposed BNIM headquarters in the Crossroads Arts District may have defeated the proposal by default.
A committee of petitioners turned in several thousand petition signatures Tuesday afternoon. Even if they were short of the 3,400 needed to let the voters decide on the TIF plan, they likely have 10 more days to submit the rest.
But time, not how the public might vote, is the issue for the $5.2 million in tax increment financing.
The BNIM architecture firm has said the building can't be renovated by the time the lease on their current headquarters runs out if they have to wait for an election – and even the delay of a court battle over the referendum could take too long.
Their lease on the former TWA building expires in just one year.
Mayor Sly James issued a statement in response to the petition-filing saying the “facts have been twisted” in what he called “political gamesmanship” and Kansas City Public Schools will actually receive less tax revenue if the plan dies than if it moves forward.
“Deciding economic development projects by public vote is no way to foster a vibrant economy in Kansas City, Missouri,” James said.
The dispute over the project at 17th and Baltimore began when the school district sought to renegotiate the amount of the payment-in-lieu-of-taxes its officials had agreed to during the 23 years of deferred tax revenue.
But parents groups and anti-TIF organizations seized upon the project as the focal point of their efforts to rein in tax breaks for developers except in economically struggling areas.
Steve Bell is afternoon news anchor and business news reporter for KCUR. He may be reached at 816-235-5173 or by e-mail as email@example.com.