Clayton approves tax abatements for Centene expansion plan

CLAYTON, MO (KPLR)-Clayton lawmakers approved tens of millions of dollars in tax breaks for the new Centene Headquarters. But some residents say the issue should go to the people on a ballot.

The Board of Aldermen's unanimous decision Tuesday night approving tax abatement for Centene. It's the first step toward their dream that By 2020, Centene can build two 30-story towers in downtown Clayton. That new office space would also make room for 2,000 new employees. It's a $772 million project.

Space they need because right now Centene is the fastest-growing health insurer. It runs Medicaid programs for different states. The deal with the City of Clayton knocks their future property taxes down by 40 percent. The company first wanted half of the value of its new buildings abated.

Clayton officials say they negotiated that down.

Board members believe this is the best decision for the community, but this unanimous vote faced outcry from the public, upset over the large tax break, congestion and construction noise. One resident has created a political action committee and is collecting signatures, saying local homeowners should vote on this issue on the ballot, and not the board.