The city of De Soto will eventually reap millions of dollars in property taxes once the Sunflower Redevelopment subsidy is paid off, but officials won’t commit to sharing the windfall with taxpayers in the city.
City Council will consider an approximate $200 million subsidy to redevelop the abandoned Sunflower Ammunition Plant on Thursday, January 20 at 7 PM. Developer Sunflower Redevelopment, LLC (SRL) wants the city to create a Taxpayer Increment Financing (TIF) District to pay for the removal of some 427 decaying buildings totaling over 1.3 million square feet on the roughly 6,000-acre property. The U.S. Army will pay for environmental remediation at the property; city officials says the TIF will be used for infrastructure and to remove old buildings.
A TIF redirects increases in property tax revenues back to developers to fund improvements or to retire bonds issued for the same purpose. Once those costs are repaid, the city keeps all of the property tax revenue.
According to Fox4, the pre-development agreement lists the cost to fully remediate the blighted conditions at approximately $200 million.
Who benefits from the Sunflower subsidy?
The TIF district certainly benefits SRL, but it puts other developers at a competitive disadvantage. Subsidies also allow government to expand at taxpayers’ expense.
According to the Kansas Department of Revenue, De Soto’s property tax revenue increased over 750% since 1997. That is nearly six times the combined growth of population and inflation.
The Sentinel asked De Soto Mayor Rick Walker and City Administrator Mike Brungardt to comment on these concerns and respond to two questions:
— What is the city’s response to other developers put at a competitive disadvantage by this subsidy?
— Will the city commit to reducing property taxes by the dollar amount of the incremental gain when the TIF is paid off?
They wouldn’t respond, indicating that the Sunflower developer and city government will benefit at taxpayers’ expense.