Unfortunately, it seems unlikely we’ll get reform for Community Improvement Districts (CIDs) and Transportation Development Districts (TDDs) this year. The governor has vetoed House Bill 1854, which passed the legislature earlier this year. There were a wide variety of measures in the bill (and not all were good), so I won’t speak to the bill in its entirety, but the section relating to CIDs and TDDs would have been a win for taxpayers.
As the process currently works, CIDs and TDDs are approved by a vote of only people within the proposed taxing district. This bill would have subjected CID and TDD approval to a vote of the people in the city in which the district is located. This would have solved one of the biggest problems with these taxing districts: Many are not subject to a broad-based, representative vote for approval. Some districts can even be approved by only a handful of property owners if the district is small enough, yet the costs are externalized to all taxpayers who spend within the district.
As Show-Me Institute researchers have mentioned before, special-taxing districts like these are on the rise. According to financial reports received by the Missouri State Auditor, there are 495 CIDs and 237 TDDs in Missouri. CIDs collected over $56 million and TDDs collected more than $73.5 million in 2018. Hundreds of districts are taking millions away from Missourians, and they may not have had a say in it.
The problems with CIDs and TDDs are clear, and lawmakers should act. There is still an opportunity to give taxpayers increased representation in a special legislative session, but it seems that for now, the problems with CIDs and TDDs will continue.