Shawnee Mission superintendent recommends against TIF veto, board paves way for Meadowbrook Park project to move forward

Superintendent Jim Hinson at a recent SuperChat.
Superintendent Jim Hinson at a recent SuperChat.

Citing moves by the Prairie Village City Council and Johnson County Park and Recreation District over the past week that demonstrated a desire for collaboration, Shawnee Mission School District Superintendent Jim Hinson on Wednesday recommended against vetoing the TIF deal that would make the 88-acre public park on the Meadowbrook Country Club property.

The school board — which received a barrage of feedback after members suggested they weren’t sure they could support the project at a meeting in September — followed Hinson’s lead and refused to exercise its veto power over the project. The school district and county government’s window to exercise their veto power over the TIF deal closes Oct. 8.

Hinson opened the discussion by suggesting that Prairie Village’s move on Monday to affirm its intent to retire the TIF district for the park as soon as possible had been “significant.” He added that the park district’s commitment, though informal, to provide opportunities for Shawnee Mission students to benefit from the new park was important as well.

Though Hinson recommended against vetoing the Meadowbrook TIF, he used the special meeting to reinforce the administration’s commitment to developing a policy on TIFs that would allow it to protect the district’s revenue stream. Hinson said that TIFs pose a threat to the ability to build new infrastructure and provide service for new students.

Deputy Superintendent Kenny Southwick echoed those sentiments, saying that keeping the district’s buildings modern was key to its success for decades to come.

“We don’t want to wake up 20 years from now…to find that we have crumbling infrastructure and that our families have moved to other parts of Johnson County,” Southwick said.