Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Westbrooke Green - Shawnee Takes It In the Shorts

Well it happened Monday night.  The Westbrooke Green development is going forward.  The plan for a mixed use apartment complex, retail type of development seems like a good idea.

So, why do I say that Shawnee takes it in the shorts?  The financing plan stinks.  A 100% TIF for 20 years stinks.  The developer getting the 1% sales tax stinks.  The 1.5% CID stinks.  The odor coming off the finance plan is akin to one that emanates from a garbage dump.

The costs of city services will not stay stagnant for 20 years.  They are constantly going up.  A development like this needs to contribute to the costs of the city.  I am not in favor of TIFs, but feel that it might have been a necessary evil in this case, but not 100%.  I suggested at the council meeting that it be renegotiated to 75%.  I felt that we did not negotiate properly in this matter and just caved to whatever the developer wanted.  When councilmember Jenkins voiced the same thoughts Jeff "the Arrogant One" Vaught claimed it was negotiated.  Heck, when I see that a developer gets a 100% of this and that I question that.

My suggestion was that the plan goes back to renegotiate to bring the TIF down to 75% and not give up the 1% sales tax.  That would also allow the matter to come back to the council after Jan 8, 2018.  That is important because three of the current councilmembers will not be returning.  I felt that this matter was too important for a council with 37.5% of its members not coming back to be voted on at this time.  Every council person who voted on it would need to be able to be held accountable to the citizens of Shawnee.  This is not possible now.

Ironically at a previous meeting about this when councilmember Dr. Mike Kemmling suggested waiting for the new council he was told that that would delay the vote too many months down the road.  Too many months?  As of this past Monday the delay would have only been three weeks.  It had also been previously argued that the developer wanted to get started shortly after the first of the year.  That turned out to be BS.  The developer now plans to start in Oct 2018.  Also, what was supposed to be a three year project has now been changed to a six year plan.  Add to that what is going to be determined as "substantially completed" during the various phases appears to be overly favorable to the developer.  Those are the markers so that the developer is not penalized.

I specifically called out the five councilmembers who would be returning to do the right things.  Send the item back to renegotiate and insure that a full, accountable council would be acting on it.  The five were Eric Jenkins, Mike Kemmling, Jim Neighbor, Stephanie Meyer and Mickey Sandifer.  Of that group only Jenkins and Kemmling voted that way.  So, when a future council has to raise sales and/or property taxes to cover shortfalls because the city is not getting any part of the increased property taxes and giving up the sales tax I will cheerfully scream "I told you so".  And then I will be able to hold the feet of the three who went with it as it stood, to the fire.

Again, project idea good, finance terms bad.

Some sidebars: 

When my speaking time had expired I asked for a motion to allow for an extension (this has happened in the past, and not just for me).  Well 6 of the 8 voted to give me the extra time (in the past it was usually 8 of 8).  Who voted against the extra time?  Jim Neighbor and Jeff Vaught.  My thoughts on this will be in a future post.

Had to chuckle at the woman that got up and said that this project would bring in restaurants and shopping that would make it a destination, she thinks she is going to get class establishments in that development?  When the plans call for five (5) drive thru restaurants.  The establishments may be nice but destination?  And will there be a "major" sit down full service restaurant that will attract folks from all over JoCo?