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CHADWICK ON TIF: First Ward candidate answers questions about tax incentive, Matthes lobbying

Confirms meeting with city manager, but TIF position unclear 


COLUMBIA, Mo 2/17/14 (Interview) --  First Ward Columbia City Council candidate Ginny Chadwick confirmed she met with city manager Mike Matthes to discuss a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District that could define her Ward for 23 years.

That's how long the development incentive -- which would encompass most of the First Ward -- will last if Council members approve it.  
 
Still undecided on the issue, Chadwick said she is "gathering information.  I do not want perception of my responses to these questions to appear that I support the position that the Heart Beat has chosen to take on the issue."

After our deadline on a previous story in which we sought her comments, Chadwick answered Columbia Heart Beat questions seeking to confirm rumors that Matthes has been lobbying Council members and candidates to support the TIF.  

The city manager has become its chief spokesperson, lobbyist, and public face, likely in violation of a city ordinance prohibiting city employees from engaging in political cause advocacy on city time.   

Council members will vote Monday on a Resolution declaring the need for a TIF, the legally-required "but for" community statement.  "But for" the Tax Incentive Financing, City Hall cannot afford some $20 million of water, electric, and sewer infrastructure Matthes says, insisting it must be built before any new development may occur.    

"I have not discussed the TIF with any member of Matthes’ staff other than Matthes himself during an individual meeting,"  Chadwick explained.   "He has not lobbied me any more than he has lobbied the community to stand behind this proposal, and in no other way than he has lobbied the public."   

Initially undecided about the course of this interview, Chadwick at first asked, in effect, that we keep her answers "on background," or "off the record," journalist lingo for "confidential."  

"I make it a personal standard to answer the questions of any constituent should they ask," she said.  "I am answering your questions for your personal knowledge but not for a story in the Heart Beat.  This is simply because of the current framing of the issue that the Heart Beat has already chosen to take on the issue."

Then she changed her mind. 

"If it is helpful for you, in feeling that this information is publicly accessible I am happy to post the questions and answers on my website and fb page...I went ahead and posted the answers just for transparency.   Thanks for asking these questions that I know many are curious about." 

Our interview is on the next page.

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