Prompt TIF decision expected after hearing

Friday, July 25, 2003

A public hearing Aug. 14 should quickly lead to a final decision on a controversial proposal to use tax-increment financing to help develop the Prestwick Plantation subdivision in Cape Girardeau, Mayor Jay Knudtson says.

"The situation has lingered on long enough," he said Thursday. "The facts are what they are."

Once the presentations are made at the hearing, the city's Tax Increment Financing Commission could be in a position that night to decide whether or not to recommend the proposal to the Cape Girardeau City Council, said commission chairman and former mayor Al Spradling III.

"I would like to be able to bring it to a head as soon as possible," he said. "I think it probably would be appropriate."

Others on the 11-member commission may feel differently, Spradling said. The commission legally has 30 days from the hearing to make its recommendation.

Tax-increment financing, an economic development tool, allows increased tax revenue to go toward infrastructure of a development district instead of going to taxing entities. TIF districts primarily have been used to develop blighted areas. Prestwick Plantation is a proposed upscale 700-home subdivision near Dalhousie Golf Club.

Developer Cord Dombrowski originally asked for approval of $30 million in infrastructure improvements to be made through creation of a TIF district. The Cape Girardeau School Board voted to oppose that plan, contending it would cost the school district $5 million in property tax revenue.

In May, Dombrowski scaled back the TIF proposal to $9 million. That money would pay for improvements the city would have to make itself if the area was developed.

The proposed subdivision is in western Cape Girardeau off Bloomfield Road.

No changes

Heading into the public hearing, the plan is unchanged, Dombrowski said. "I haven't had any conversations with anybody at the city with regards to what's in the proposal."

Dombrowski has said private funding sources also are being pursued. "We do have alternatives," he said Thursday.

Knudtson said one question the city council will have to decide is whether approving the Prestwick Plantation TIF district would set a precedent making it difficult to deny developers' future requests for TIFs. He does not think so.

"I think precedent plays a very small role in the granting of TIFs," he said. "It is one of the only issues that the decision lies solely in the hands of the city council."

The hearing will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Osage Community Centre, 1625 N. Kingshighway in Cape Girardeau. The public will be invited to make comments at the hearing. The public and taxing districts affected by the proposal also can submit comments to the TIF Commission in advance of the hearing. Those comments should be directed to: Tax Increment Financing Commission of the city of Cape Girardeau, c/o city manager, city of Cape Girardeau, 401 Independence St., Cape Girardeau, Mo. 63701

sblackwell@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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