City Council denies KC Public Schools seeking tax boost from downtown developer

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- In Wednesday's city council meeting, the superintendent of Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS) asked for more money from downtown developer, Cordish, to fund schools in the city.

The answer to the superintendent's request was no, but according to some people the no didn't come from Cordish. It came from the city council.

Kansas City is paying for a $17.5 million parking garage at Three Light and Cordish is getting a 25-year tax abatement. Taxes that public entities like the public library and the school system will be missing out on.

KCPS relies 100 percent on property taxes to operate the school district.

Superintendent Dr. Mark Bedell went in front of city council to ask for more time to see whether Three Light is complying with the city's incentive reform ordinance passed a few years ago.

The city council declined his request and voted in a deal that will give the school district $250,000 a year from Cordish in lieu of taxes, with a bump in years 21-25.

Councilman Quinton Lucas voted against the deal.

 

"As you imagine the school district administrators say 21 years from now most of us elected will be gone, all of the students will be out of the district by then, and we may have a whole new set of challenges by that point and so that is where I think we have more work to do and have more conversation about this and that is why I thought there was nothing wrong with having that conversation today," Lucas said.

The full tax burden could be in the millions. Councilman Lucas said Cordish was willing to negotiate with the school district for more money, but the council voted to pass the deal anyway.

There is a concern that this type of controversy may plague Four, Five, and Six Light in the future.