Kansas City (WNBTv) – In a little noted action Thursday the city Council voted 12-1 to approve a Kansas City homeowner’s request for a 30-year property tax abatement.
Mayor “Sly” James cast the lone ‘nay’ vote.
“This is ridiculous, we don’t give abatements to homeowners. Think of the money the city will lose if we do this for everyone in Kansas City. I just don’t understand the city council.”
The item had come to the council with a 4-0 committee recommendation for denial two weeks previous but had been set aside so council members could consider a property tax abatement extension for the Kansas City Star’s downtown printing plant. That abatement was also approved at Thursday’s meeting.
In the case of the homeowner’s request Advisory Board Chairman Michael Duffy made the motion to recommend denial, giving two primary reasons.
For one, Duffy said, Chapter 353 abatements were intended to be used as redevelopment incentives, “not as a bailout provision for troubled homeowners.”
In addition, Duffy said, “In fact, both this and the Star’s request appear to be an end run around an adverse county determination of fair market valuation. There is simply no compelling reason to consider either.”
The homeowner’s property assessment would have required annual payments of $4,000, including the PILOTs, to the taxing jurisdictions. In addition any future assessment (for [possibly] being located in the transportation development district helping to finance the city’s new downtown streetcar line) would also be waived.
With their approval the Kansas City Star now stands to save an estimated $2,600,000 per year in tax relief.
One council member, speaking off the record, commented on the decisions.
“We (council members) talked about it and felt that we could easily afford abatements for about another 600 similarly priced homes before we come even close to equaling the Star’s abatement. Think about it; for the average family of 4 that’s 2400 people whose lives could improve each year. Then think on exactly what all Kansas Citians will get with the Star’s abatement… Nothing, that’s what. Not a damned thing. Hell, they’re not even rightly a newspaper any more.”
The council member continued. “Isn’t that what government is supposed do? Make life easier for the average citizen instead of doling out major cash to businesses and corporations that don’t even need it?”
When asked why the city council approved the Star’s request the council member shrugged and rolled their eyes.
“What you askin’ about that for? That’s just business as usual, you know? Ever since Sly come in, that’s how it rolls.”
While the Kansas City Star reported their abatement approval in today’s online edition, calls to publisher Mi-Ai Parrish for comment were not returned.
A phone request for comment from the homeowner, Nick Charalambides, was met at first with silence, then an extended chortle before the connection was cut.