Strong majority opposes TIF district
COLUMBIA, Mo 1/30/14 (Beat Byte) -- A sixty-six percent majority of survey respondents oppose a central city TIF district as one way to pay for infrastructure, says 4th Ward Columbia City Councilman Ian Thomas.  

Even worse for TIF proponents:  one hundred percent of respondents oppose TIF as the only way to pay for infrastructure, an idea city manager Mike Matthes has championed since late last year.     

Thomas posted the survey in December, asking respondents to weigh such factors as job creation, community cost, and "who should pay" for sewers, water pipes, electrical lines and so forth as Columbia grows.  He released the preliminary results in an email to constituents yesterday. 

"As you may have heard, all new construction in the downtown area is currently 'on hold' because the electrical and sewer systems in the area are both at capacity," Thomas explained.  "The City Manager has proposed funding infrastructure upgrades with a 'Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District.'" 

The TIF district would divert future property and sales tax revenues into a city-controlled "TIF fund" to pay for infrastructure upgrades.   But even TIF ally Hank Waters admitted it "would entail withholding substantial tax revenue from schools and other agencies."

Thomas' 5-week long survey -- which is still open -- suggests voters are anything but sold on the idea.   

"A majority of respondents (66%) believe new development has not paid its 'fair share' of infrastructure costs over the last 10-20 years," the survey reported.  "About one-third of respondents say new development should be charged 100% of the cost of extending infrastructure or expanding its capacity, and the other two-thirds say new development should pay most of the cost with some being absorbed by the broader community."

Only 34% of respondents support a TIF District as one of several funding mechanisms.

Ian Thomas TIF/ Infrastructure survey