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Recently passed Waldo CID met with frustration by residents

Posted at 5:22 PM, Dec 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-20 20:19:54-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — There's another Community Improvement District in Waldo that's raising eyebrows.

Despite push back, the Kansas City, Missouri, City Council Thursday approved a special sales tax to improve the Romanelli Shopping Center at West Gregory Boulevard and Wornall Road.

It’s expected to generate about $2.5 million in five years.

G. Palen Investments, which owns the property, said some of the buildings in the shopping center are aging and require additional upkeep. Tenants have complained of flooded basements and leaky roofs.

The proposal was met with resistance from some business leaders, who say such taxing districts should not be used for single properties.

"The fact that is that it was for a person, even though he's my landlord and I really like him, that didn't make me feel very happy," Classic Cookie owner Leslie Stockard said of the move.

Stockard says her customers already pay an 11% sales tax on her products and doesn't want them to pay anymore.

"Having to ask my customers to pay over 12% in sales tax is not a good thing," she said.

The shopping center was already covered by an existing CID that placed a 0.5% sales tax that is used for daily trash pickup and marketing.

It's another tax some who live in the area don't want to pay.

"We're basically looking at a private developer who is going to tax people," Waldo resident ANgie Lyle said. "They are going to collect that tax money. They are not going to have to say what they are going to do with that tax money."

Waldo Community Business Association President Becky Beck sent 41 Action News this statement in regards to this new CID.

"I'm very disappointed that the city council members who voted for it feel it's okay for tax payers to pay for a single owner's maintenance of their own commercial property. I do not believe that is what the "spirit" of a Community Improvement District is, even it is within the "letter" of the law. As chair of the Waldo CID, first and foremost, we are all for promoting and attracting great businesses to the Waldo area. But for me personally, I'm worried about this (new single-owner CID) tarnishing the good reputation we have for all the work we do for the entire Waldo district. Changes need to be made at the state level and at the city, so that these types of CIDs don't continue to be passed. I think this is an abusive use of what originally was a very good thing for communities."

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway's office conducts reviews of CIDs across the state, though it was too early for them to review the new Waldo CID.

"It would not be appropriate to comment on a CID that our office has not examined. Auditor Galloway's position on CIDs is clear: CIDs are funded by taxpayers and should be accountable to taxpayers. While she recognizes CIDs can serve a useful purpose for economic development, she also believes the current state laws governing CIDs need to be improved. Specifically, changes need to be put in place so that conflicts of interest and self-dealing can be avoided while allowing for greater oversight and enhanced transparency. As Missouri's only independent watchdog, she is encouraging the legislature to take action this session to overhaul these laws."

The council approved the CID on a 7-5 vote.