St. Louis economic development officials are finalizing a map to guide where property tax abatement will be offered in the city as part of a larger push to set consistent parameters and ensure the popular incentive is being used correctly.
The effort is part of a years-long debate over just how often the city uses tax abatement and other incentives, which freeze property assessments when investors plan to fund new development. Some have questioned their necessity in strong neighborhoods, but others say the incentives often help developers and rehabbers finance projects and encourage new investment.
According to the St. Louis comptroller’s office, the city did not collect nearly $30 million in revenue last year due to property tax abatement. About 60 percent of property tax revenue goes to St. Louis Public Schools, which has no say in whether the incentives are granted. Tax abatement typically lasts up to a decade.
St. Louis Board Alderman Shane Cohn, the chair of the committee that sees the bulk of tax abatement requests, said the city needs more consistent guidelines around how tax abatement gets used, and that officials should prioritize disinvested areas. The map would be a step towards that, Cohn said.
City officials hope to get a document ready in time for the board’s return to session in September.
Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch