Mission council candidates on the issues: Use of tax finance incentives

Last month, we asked our readers what issues they wanted to hear the candidates running for local office address ahead of this fall’s local elections primary. Based on the input we received, we developed a three-item questionnaire for candidates running for city council in Ward 1 in Mission.

Today we publish the candidates’ responses to item one:

In recent years, developers have become increasingly likely to seek public finance incentives like tax increment financing and community improvement district sales taxes to pay for parts of their private projects. What’s your stance on the use of such incentives? When, if ever, is it appropriate to commit public finances to private real estate projects?

Trent Boultinghouse

Public incentives should be used with caution, restraint, and on a case-by-case basis. Too often, cities in Johnson County have used such incentives to check the box on short-term goals that do little to address the long-term needs facing our cities – maintaining affordability, encouraging sustainable development, and preserving the spirit of what makes a city attractive. I believe Mission should only consider the use of public incentives when there is clear evidence that public investment is necessary for a project to be feasible and that the project will bring about strong benefits to our residents. With respect to tax increment financing in particular, I am leery of committing future tax collection for 20+ years when real estate trends can shift unpredictably. We should be purposeful and strategic when it comes to our vision for the city, and this includes our approach to using public finance incentives. This is a sentiment I share with many longtime Mission residents I’ve met throughout my campaign. We are fortunate that our city already attracts high-quality development opportunities and my focus as a councilmember would be to strengthen what makes Mission unique – the comforts of a small town with the luxuries of the big-city metro.

Burton Taylor

Did not respond.