Officials: Cape tries to avoid TIFs to safeguard tax base

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Cape Girardeau has tried to avoid using tax-increment financing to attract new commercial developments because it could cut into property tax revenue for the local school district, city officials said Monday.

"We have tried to minimize the impact on the schools," city manager Doug Leslie said at a joint meeting of the city council and the Cape Girardeau Board of Education. "We will use it very judiciously."

Councilman Matt Hopkins also offered assurances to the school board. "We are really trying to preserve your tax base," he said at the meeting held at the Osage Community Centre.

School board president Steve Trautwein welcomed the news.

Tax-increment financing allows increased tax revenue from a development to be spent on infrastructure improvements. The issue generated controversy several years ago when developers of a proposed, upscale residential subdivision along Bloomfield Road sought such financing.

The developers decided on more conventional financing after school officials objected to the use of tax-increment financing.

City planner Kent Bratton said expansion of water and sewer lines and new street construction will spark more commercial and residential development on the city's west side, including areas west of Interstate 55.

That should add to property values and increase property tax revenue for the school district, city officials said.

A number of street improvements in the coming years should make school-bus travel easier, Bratton said.

They include the widening of sections of Mount Auburn Road and the installation of traffic signals at Mount Auburn and Hopper roads.

School board member Sharon Mueller asked city officials to keep school district officials informed about upcoming street construction projects. She said the district then could send information home to parents to alert them to the roadwork.

School board member Tim Arbeiter praised city officials for requiring construction of sidewalks as part of street improvements. Arbeiter said sidewalks help keep school children off the streets.

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