Library Director Outraged at Proposed Subsidies for Three Light Development

Thursday, March 22, 2018
Courtney Lewis
Library Director Outraged at Proposed Subsidies for Three Light Development

Kansas City, MO - The Kansas City Public Library today registered its opposition to the proposed subsidies of the Three Light development in downtown Kansas City. 

Library Director Crosby Kemper, III, who will be among those protesting the proposed subsidies at today's City Council meeting, sent a letter of opposition to the full Council this morning. Below is the text: 

"Dear Mayor James and City Council,
The Kansas City Public Library wishes to register its opposition to the proposed subsidies of the Three Light development. The City has increasingly designed an economic development program and a tax structure that subsidizes real estate for wealthy, frequently out of town owners, with tax dollars meant for  social services. Commercial property owners have learned from the City they no longer need to assume any responsibility as taxpayers or citizens.
The 'but for' test is met in the Three Light proposal by the statement that Three Light must be subsidized in order to compete with Two Light and One Light. Every middle school child must be able to see the devastatingly bad logic and the implication that therefore subsidies will never end; that all development in Kansas City must be subsidized, or development will stop.
The Library supported the initial Power and Light program—though  it was negotiated and finalized away from public scrutiny, and therefore gave away too much to the developer—an ongoing problem for the city as witness the initial airport 'negotiation'. The initial development did at least meet the ‘blight test. Three Light clearly does not.
It is equally NOT economic development and would pass no serious scorecard combining development and community benefit. There are virtually no permanent jobs that don’t replace other jobs somewhere in the metro as the tenants of Three Light are simply young upscale singles moved from –with subsidy—  other unsubsidized parts  of the city.
As we continue to fund these developments with property tax dollars that should have gone to the schools, libraries, mental health treatments, blind pensioners and community colleges there are three bad public policy results. 
  1. Our tax system was designed to share the burden equally between commercial and residential property owners. We are moving to a system that it is closer to %70 residential and %30 commercial. That redistributes the tax burden in an unequal and regressive way.
  2. Almost all the subsidies go to the wealthiest developers or corporations, many of them out of town, or living in Johnson County. Again a regressive and in some ways just plain dumb, redistribution of Kansas City Missouri taxes.
  3. These taxes would have been used for social services that primarily benefit the poor, minority, economically and educationally challenged residents of Kansas City.
 In short, at a time when everybody in the United States is concerned about inequality the members of the Kansas City Council over the last four or so councils have created one of the most regressive tax systems in the United States."