Missouri Minute: Audit knocks St. Louis taxing districts; MLB owners approve Royals sale

Good morning, MBA readers,

Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway has once again turned a concerned eye toward local taxing districts in the state. Her latest target: St. Louis. A report released Thursday by Galloway’s office found over 138 local taxing districts in the city, some of which have sales tax rates as high as 11.7%. Although the report pointed out the benefits of these taxing districts for funding public improvements, the auditor argued that “for too long, these districts have operated unchecked,” noting that 96% of the city’s community improvement district boards are controlled by developers. St. Louis’ response to Galloway’s proposed solutions? An official said “the City does not necessarily disagree,” but added that some of the policy proposals require state legislation for effective implementation. Before you sign off for the week, scroll down to learn more about this and other top business stories of the day.

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Charles Schwab said to be in talks to acquire TD Ameritrade
Discount broker Charles Schwab reportedly is in talks to buy rival TD Ameritrade in a deal that could be worth around $26 billion. The move comes amid mounting competitive pressure on discount brokerages. TD Ameritrade bought St. Louis County-based Scottrade in 2017 and employed around 1,200 workers in the St. Louis area as of last August. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Galloway slams St. Louis’ oversight of special taxing districts
State Auditor Nicole Galloway, who is running for governor in 2020, admonished the city of St. Louis for its “rampant” use of special taxing districts that have resulted in some of the highest tax rates in the state, with some reaching up to 11.7%. Galloway said these are largely the result of a lack of oversight by the city. (St. Louis Business Journal)

MLB owners approve Sherman’s purchase of Royals
Major League Baseball owners unanimously approved Kansas City businessman John Sherman as the new controlling owner of the Royals. The sale to Sherman by current owner David Glass was first announced in August. The deal, estimated at $1 billion, is expected to close next week. (Associated Press)

Spire ordered to pay $4 million, postpones earnings call
A Missouri appeals court is ordering the natural gas distribution company to pay customers around $4 million in reimbursements after overcharging for pipe repairs. The company postponed its quarterly earnings call to assess the impact of the rulings. (St. Louis Public Radio)

Old Crestwood Mall may see development
The barren site of the former St. Louis-area mall hasn’t seen any development since the mall closed its doors in 2013, despite a handful of ideas presented by interested developers. City officials hope the latest will finally stick: Creve Coeur-based Walpert Properties would like to start construction a $300 million mixed-use project next year. (St. Louis Public Radio)

St. Louis Library to move forward with $20 million development after lawsuit struck down
The St. Louis County Library will move forward with a new headquarters in Frontenac, to the dismay of the city, which filed a lawsuit to block the development. The library board voted on Thursday to continue plans after a judge dismissed the lawsuit. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Topgolf considering second St. Louis-area location
The Dallas-based operator of golf entertainment complexes already has a location in Chesterfield and is said to be exploring a second location in the city of St. Louis. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Show me

Construction started last week on a bridge in Montgomery County that will be the first replaced as part of a program that will include $301 million in bonds to repair 215 bridges across the state. Missouri is above the national average for percentage of bridges that are structurally deficient, according to one national group, and its proportion of bridges that need major work has been trending upward, according to state transportation officials.

Say that again

“You say the economy is great, but Park Place retail … is for sale at a discount. It’s a very challenging retail, entertainment market.”

That’s attorney John Petersen, who represents Block Real Estate Services, on why his client has missed two recent deadlines for a massive retail and entertainment hub in Overland Park, Kansas, The Kansas City Star reports. At a City Council meeting Wednesday night, the developers of the Galleria 115 project blamed several site problems and a struggling retail market. The project, which calls for a 548 luxury apartments, retail space, restaurants, entertainment venues and a grocery store, was first approved in 2017. The council, which hoped the project would transform the College Boulevard corridor and draw high-end consumers, voted Wednesday night to grant the developer a two-year extension on the construction.

Go figure

$2.4 billion

That’s the mortgage volume that St. Louis-based USA Mortgage expects to reach by year end, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. While low mortgage rates are driving mortgage volume growth nationwide, USA Mortgage, the state’s largest home lender, says its conversion to employee ownership has attracted top lenders. In 2017, founder Doug Schukar sold 100% of his ownership to employees. Since then, the company grew from 533 employees in 39 locations to 655 in 89 locations, said Schukar, who now serves as chairman and CEO of USA’s parent company DAS Acquisition.

Hello, my name is

Allen Angel Capital Education Club

This student-driven angel investment group at the University of Missouri is turning 10 this year, the Columbia Missourian reports. The club was founded in 2009 after MU business students Ryan Wenk and Kyle Cleeton took a trip to Wall Street a year earlier. The pair approached one of their professors, William Allen, who oversees the program as the coordinator and faculty adviser. Over the years, the fund has received $655,000 in donations. One of the fund’s successful investments is Elemental Enzymes, an agrochemical research company founded by three MU alumni. The fund’s initial investment of $30,000 in Elemental Enzymes was worth about $160,000 by the time the program exited the business.

It’s been a pleasure doing business with you this morning. Make it a fantastic weekend.


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