(updated Feb 13, 2019)
Team TIF was formed, and continues to be organized, around the belief that the use of tax incentives in the St. Louis region is fundamentally broken as evidenced by inequitable use, non-transparency, and a lack of intentional and comprehensive planning. Our specific focus thus far, due to resource and time constraints of team members, has primarily been on the City of St. Louis. We are an entirely volunteer effort, with no physical infrastructure, funding, or staff to back our efforts.
In the interest of centering the goals of more equitable incentive use, greater transparency, and more intentional and comprehensive planning, requests for comment on one-off projects and incentive packages outside of the context of the broad discussion of the above aims will not be engaged with. We have found that doing so distracts from the broader discussion and introduces animus and personalities into discussions that should be grounded in collaboration and outcomes which benefit all St. Louisans in just and equitable ways.
Particularly egregious historical examples of incentive misuse, illustrating the broken framework which persists, will continue to be used in public education and engagement activities and we will continue to weigh in on the current state of incentive reform in STL. However, comment asked for and given on a case-by-case basis for on-going proposals only serves to sensationalize particularly controversial instances of incentive use, and in the long run distracts from reforming the power structure and systems allowing such incentive proposals to continue to be put forth.
The fact that we have a system in which decisions on development incentives hinge almost entirely on the support of local elected officials, and the structural and financial resources necessary to be able to navigate the complex incentive process, rather than an established plan and process that is transparent and equitable only serves to further illustrate the need for broad-based reform.
The need for reform is too great to weigh in on every project borne of a broken system as it comes up. This only distracts from the fundamental work that needs to be done to change the system in a just and equitable way.
Requests for comment on topics that deal directly with reforming the broken tax incentive system in St. Louis as it exists today will continue to be engaged with.