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JCPS Board of Education members voice split opinions of TIF proposal

Leaders of Jefferson City Public Schools are split on a tax increment financing (TIF) proposal for the former St. Mary’s Hospital property.

Korb Maxwell, the attorney for the developers, Farmers Holding Co., gave a presentation to the board Monday on the proposal.

This comes ahead of the TIF Commission’s expected vote Wednesday for a recommendation to City Council on the plans.

JCPS Superintendent Larry Linthacum and Chief Financial Officer Jason Hoffman are voting members of the TIF Commission. School board members gave their input Monday on how each though the two should vote.

ABC 17 News has reported that the developers have two options for redeveloping the site.

The first would include a satellite campus for Lincoln University with restaurants, office and retail space. That option would cost about $44.6 million. The developers are asking to be reimbursed for about 16.5 percent of the project, or $7.3 million, through a TIF.

However, the first option is heavily dependent on Lincoln University receiving a large amount of state grant funding. ABC 17 News has reported that Lincoln University has announced a budget for the upcoming school year of about $3 million less than the 2016-2017 year, due to state funding cuts.

The second option would replace the space for Lincoln University with additional commercial space. That option is expected to cost about $30.9 million. Developers are asking to be reimbursed for about 21.7 percent of the project, or roughly $6.7 million.

Monday, Maxwell said the abandoned hospital currently generates about $23,000 worth of tax revenue a year.

Once the project is completed, if approved, that number is expected to jump to about $1.6 million through property and sales taxes, Maxwell said.

JCPS Board Member Pam Murray was opposed to the TIF proposal, saying the district was losing out on much-needed funds across the community from other tax abatements that the district could use for things such as employee raises.

Multiple other members said they were torn on the issue, saying they had concerns but also thought the long-term payback may be worth the risk.

“Given the fact that there are no other developers that are coming to the table, that are interested in redeveloping this property … then we looked at the potential increases, the $1.6 million increase at the end of the TIF,” said Steve Bruce, the school board president. “And to me, that’s very difficult to say no to, given the state of public education, the challenges that it faces in the state and federal legislature. “

The TIF Commission is set to hold a public meeting and vote on its recommendation for the plans at 6 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall.

The City Council will take a final vote on the TIF proposal at a later date.

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