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MIDKIFF: Why CoMo's slumdog billionaires oppose higher developer fees

Welfare for the rich; "free markets" for the poor

By Ken Midkiff

COLUMBIA, Mo 10/19/14 (Op Ed) -- Chances are the developers, builders, one oil company, an attorney, and a few construction industry vendors who have kicked in $130,000 (so far) to oppose Proposition 2 are adamantly against taxpayer-funded food stamps.  

THEY want taxpayer-funded welfare for themselves, but they'll be darned if food stamp and public housing recipients should receive any of their tax dollars.  

For the poor, these "successful business people" preach "free markets".  They insist "any new development fees will reduce low income housing" by reducing "free market" incentives to build low income housing.  

For themselves, they argue taxpayers should pay their bills.   And when they sidle up to City Hall (REDI comes to mind)  -- why, that's an innovative "public-private partnership".  

Partnership, bologna!   These wealthy fat cats are as much on the dole as the poor folks they criticize.  Welfare for the rich, capitalism for the poor.  They suck the teats of us taxpayers, wanting us to pick up most of the tab for the infrastructure their projects -- and profits -- require.

You know, little things. Like roads, sidewalks, water, sewer, electric lines, law enforcement, emergency vehicles, and storm drains to capture runoff from rain.   Developers pay only 15% of the costs of these needs, according to current studies, while taxpayers are stuck with the remaining 85%.   

To reduce the taxpayer portion, Proposition 2 would raise the fees that folks who construct apartments, houses, and commercial buildings pay for the privilege of connecting to and using our taxpayer-funded roads and streets. 

Columbia's crony capitalists should be thanking us for supporting them!   Instead, they raise money in $10,000 chunks to demonize something they do in an instant:   Fight those who would take their money, just like we taxpayers are fighting to get their hands out of our *shrinking* pocketbooks.

They send out a flyer admonishing us, "Don't give up your dough," but that's what we've been doing for decades, with the corporate welfare they take.   If Prop. 2 passes, "grocery bills will rise," they claim, with no documentation whatever showing how grocery bills are related to the developer dole.  

The only clear connection is that Columbia mega-developer Stan Kroenke owns the Lucky's Market building and other properties that house Wal-Mart superstores.   Signs warning against Proposition 2 have sprouted in front of these stores.

"The increased development costs will be passed on to new home buyers," the developers also argue, and "affordable housing" will cease to exist.   But affordable housing does not exist already.   The median cost of a new home in Columbia is $190,000;  affordable housing is priced well under $100,000.

On the rental front, student apartments dominate the new housing market, with rents as high as $1,200 per bedroom.   That's Per Bedroom!  The average per unit rent in Columbia is now a whopping $800 per month, and all with taxpayers footing 85% of the infrastructure bill. 

Even at the state level, affordable housing has become a taxpayer scam.    A recent Missouri State Auditor study shows that taxpayers benefit hardly at all from state and federal programs that grant tax credits to affordable housing builders.   One of Columbia's best-known developers -- Jeff Smith -- avails himself of these programs so much, he's become another notorious corporate welfare recipient.

Developers benefit; taxpayers lose.  Who'da thunk it?

These lying weasels are partying on a gravy train, with tickets paid for by you and me.   A vote for Prop. 2 on Nov. 4 is a vote to revoke their tickets and kick them off the train. 


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