Study: Is St. Louis making the best use of economic tax incentives?

Each month, St. Louis’ Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority commissioners hear several requests from developers and even residents for tax abatements that usually last five to 10 years, but now St. Louis officials are taking a look into at how those tax incentives are handed out.

Last year, the SLDC commissioned a study looking at its use of economic development incentives and seeing what was done elsewhere. The Public Financial Management, Inc. out of Philadelphia, in partnership with the University of Missouri-St. Louis and Saint Louis University, released the study in May.

The study found that over a 15-year period, the city spent $709 million with its two major incentives, tax increment financing and tax abatement, with two-thirds of those incentives spent in just a handful of neighborhoods.

Following the findings, the study recommended that the SLDC create a zone-based approach and target specific incentives in certain areas. Another recommendation is to require that all applicants be put through a sort of score card that will help decide whether they should get the incentives. Additionally, the study suggests that the city should do a better job tracking the incentives it gives and require more reporting from recipients.

St. Louis Development Corporation executive director Otis Williams said his office is still in the early stages of implementing the changes.

Read more: St. Louis Public Radio

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