After lengthy debate on Monday night, the Prairie Village city council approved proposals to raise the sales tax at the Village Shops and Corinth Square by 1 percent for 22 years and use the new tax revenue to fund major redevelopments.
The vote to create the two Community Improvement Districts (CIDs) completes a six month process of negotiating between the city and LANE4 Property Group, which owns both shopping centers. The CIDs go into effect on January 1, 2011, when the new tax rate at the shopping centers will become 9.525 percent.
“This is about keeping our centers competitive with those in other communities,” said council member Dale Beckerman, who sat on the Prairie Village negotiating committee. “I think it’s the right thing to do, and I think it’s a good agreement.”
Both proposals passed 8-4, with council members Michael Kelly, Andrew Wang, David Morrison and David Belz voting against.Several members of the public came out for the hearing on the issue, with eight residents and shop owners voicing their support, one urging the council to be cautious, and two — including former U.S. Senate candidate Charles Schollenberger — objecting.
Schollenberger told the council that asking the residents of Prairie Village to bear the brunt of a sales tax hike at the shopping centers during a period of high unemployment and economic hardship was “frivolous,” and said that the city had done a poor job of letting citizens know that such an important issue was up for debate.
LANE4 president Owen Buckley said the approval of the measures would allow the group to keep the same mix of independent retailers in the shops, and that it would take the centers to the “next level.”
“Our interests — the city’s and LANE4’s — are perfectly aligned,” Buckley said. “We know that this arrangement will help tenants increase their sales, and keep these shopping centers at the heart of the community.”
After getting input from the council at its last meeting, LANE4 revised its proposal for the Corinth CID, and will now be required to either replace the former Tippin’s building or conduct a major renovation of the facade of Corinth’s central structure within five years of the beginning of the arrangement.
Council member Michael Kelly staged a last minute push to postpone a vote on the issue, citing a desire to have city staff research alternatives to the CIDs that could accomplish the same redevelopment goals, but was stopped after several council members suggested there had been plenty of time to explore alternatives during the six months of negotiations.
Still, the vote came too quickly for some council members.
“They say you act in haste and you regret in leisure,” Belz said. “Twenty two years is a lot of time for leisure.”
Nevertheless, a majority of the council agreed with the results of an economic impact study on the CIDs conducted by a third-party, which found that the redeveloped centers will have a positive financial impact on Prairie Village.
“I’m convinced this is a good thing for the city,” said council member Ruth Hopkins, who moved to vote on the issues. “These centers need some attention.”