The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has a great piece by Jacob Barker on an effort by the city of Wentzville to partner with a private developer to finance and build a rec center it has long wanted. The outrage is that the private firm is connected to Stan Kroenke, owner of the
St. Louis Los Angeles Rams, perhaps the most hated man in the St. Louis region.
The rest of the piece catalogues the standard objections to special taxing districts, which in this case is a Community Improvement District (CID). They include: unfair taxation, developer subsidies, a blight finding so that the developer is even less constrained in spending the CID funds, and the lack of transparency in the tax collection and spending.
While everything in the Post-Dispatch story is true, none of it is unique. Kroenke’s involvement may make it even less palatable, but special taxing districts such as these are common and becoming more so. My colleague Graham Renz and I wrote about it in this essay, which includes some especially odious examples and ideas for reform. It would be a wonderful irony if a man like Kroenke, who has profited so handsomely from such subsidies, was himself a cause for their reform. One can hope.