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Nixon signs bill restricting local use of tax incentives

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)
Gov. Jay Nixon signed House Bill 1434 on Wednesday at the East-West Gateway Council of Governments.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon signed a bill Wednesday tightening laws around a popular economic development tool.

The law is aimed at the St. Louis region, naming St. Louis County, St. Charles County and Jefferson County. It limits the power of municipalities to approve tax increment financing if a county-wide TIF board rejects it.

Nixon signed the bill at a meeting of the regional East-West Gateway Council of Governments, which did a report on the issue.

"The study done by East-West has shown there’s been a huge over expenditure of these breaks out there, and this is a tool that has been from the tax payers’ perspective for schools and other things, abused," he said. "Too much money has been spent for too few jobs."

Nixon said the law will strengthen TIF commissions in each of the three counties. It requires a majority of the commission to approve the use of TIF. If commissioners have a tie vote or reject a proposal, municipalities would only be able to use the tax incentive for demolition and site preparation, not for the development itself.

Until now, if a TIF board rejected a proposal, municipalities just had to vote on it again.

"That let developers go around and poach off various cities with deals that are not good for the region," Nixon said. "... and we have, quite frankly, wasted too much money on TIF for too long. This bill will make a substantial difference."

St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann said the law was part of a 16-year effort that East-West Gateway helped with its report.

"I don’t think this would have happened without the study by East-West Gateway," he said.

He said this will allow the area to focus resources on projects that will bring new jobs into the region, instead of creating competition between municipalities.

Follow Maria on Twitter: @radioaltman 

Maria is the newscast, business and education editor for St. Louis Public Radio.