While it raised a lot of the same issues I raised in my work as City Auditor, it also revealed for the first time, in stark statistical fact, the social and economic injustice associated with Kansas City's use of TIF.
Though TIF was originally created to help revitalize areas of the city that are struggling economically, Kelsay's report stated that:
88% of TIF plans are in four Council Districts (1, 2, 4, and 6) which contain the two-thirds of the city’s population who are the most affluent, best educated and least likely to be members of a minority group.
The two Council Districts (3 and 5) with one-third of the population who have the lowest income and the highest rates of poverty and unemployment receive only 12% of TIFs.
This was something that I never directly confronted as City Auditor because I didn't realize how bad it had gotten until the very end of my career. Now it's blatantly obvious that TIF has been used almost exclusively to line the pockets of insiders under the guise of "economic development."
Two weeks ago, when I went to City Hall to testify against yet another one of these TIF plans -- this one for one of the wealthiest and most vibrant areas of the city -- I told Channel 9 Reporter Michael Mahoney that TIF is not doing what the Mayor and current City Council claim. They say that this kind of "economic development" is essential to the effort to bring more revenue into the city, revenue that can be used to offer good basic services to regular folks like you and me. But, as I said to Mahoney, "Sales tax is flat."
See for yourself:
So here we are, supposedly pumping up our economy with retail TIFs, when, in fact, there is no growth in sales tax revenues. Indeed, they're actually declining when adjusted for inflation. What's more, we are losing population as a proportion of the metropolitan area.
Looking at this, I believe that any reasonably intelligent person would conclude that the TIF process has NOT worked to provide "economic development."