SHREWBURY, MO (KPLR) - A big crowd sounded off about a plan to use millions of tax dollars to help pay for a new for Walmart in Shrewsbury: $15 million worth over a span of up to 23 years, through Tax Increment Financing, or TIF.
About $3 million of that money would typically go to area schools.
The TIF commission voted down the proposal to revamp the Kenrick Plaza Shopping Center on Watson road, 9-3, after a close to 3 hour public hearing Wednesday night.
There was a big crowd; about 300 people.
The public hearing was held in the ballroom of the City Hall complex because of the size of the crowd.
Most people rather loudly agreed with a market expert from the Show-Me Institute think tank, who said these tax breaks don`t bring in new money - they just shuffle it around.
'We`re not going to have new shopping for the St. Louis region. It's just going to take shopping from other current shopping centers,' said David Stokes of the Show-Me Institute.
'When I say Walmart and Shrewsbury in the same breath it doesn't sound right. I`m sorry this is just not right,' said resident, Greg Kresyman.
The crowd erupted in applause.
'The 6 Walmart heirs alone have more wealth than the bottom 40% of the people in the United States,' said Shrewsbury Alderwoman Dee Wiecher, drawing more applause.
Most people urged the TIF board to vote this proposal down for two reasons: they don`t like Walmart and they especially don`t like Walmart getting a TIF.
It`s a $46 million proposal for a 24 acre site where property values have dropped more than 40% since 2005; sales tax revenues have plunged nearly 70% since 2000.
At the same time, there are still successful businesses there; like the Sports Zone bar and grill.
There are still business owners who`d rather not move.
Then there`s the TIF. The area's been declared "blighted" to allow 15 million dollars in new tax revenues to help pay for the project: $11.25 million from new property tax revenues and $3.75 million from a new 1% sales tax at retail businesses in the new development.
About $3 million of those property tax revenues would otherwise go to Affton schools.
Kenrick Plaza lies within the Affton School District.
Developer, Gary Grewe, pointed out without the new Walmart, there will be no new tax revenues at all; no new shops either.
The project was expected to generate more than $62 million in sales in its first full year; which would likely begin in 2014.
'We can guarantee a first class shopping center; a first class long term development, we`re very excited to be here,' Grewe said.
The mayor said the proposal was not dead. Grewe could still seek approval from the board of aldermen.
He told FOX2 he would.
'We look at the example of our neighbors to the north in Maplewood and Brentwood, they have used the TIF statute and they have become vibrant cities. They have seen very positive economic impact, as the result of the decision to use this. We in Shrewsbury look forward to that happening,' said Shrewsbury Mayor, Felicity Buckley.
Grewe said there would be long term benefits for Affton Schools. He predicted the TIF funds would be paid off within 10 years; after that, Affton schools would get those property tax revenues.
Though the board of aldermen can still approve the deal, it will now take a super majority, after the TIF commission vote.
A 4-2 vote would be enough for passage.
A 3-3 vote would have been enough, with the mayor, a supporter, casting the deciding vote for a 4-3 majority.
A 4-3 majority won`t be enough now. Previous Story:
Walmart Development Debate Reignited In Shrewsbury