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K-Mart Manager Speaks Out Against Ellisville Walmart TIF

Fred Kamp said the city council was "afraid" of claims Wal-mart would not build in Ellisville without tax incentives for the project's developer.

Fred Kamp, store manager of in Ellisville, refuted claims that a new Walmart permitted by the Ellisville City Council to be built across the street would significantly hurt business, but objected to the council's decision to approve the project with tax incentives for its developer.

"It’s a free country and anyone can do business anywhere they want," Kamp said Thursday. "I just don’t agree with the TIF money."

The TIF or tax increment financing district will allow half of all new sales tax revenue generated beyond current values at the site to be put in a fund used by the Sansone Group, the project's developer, for a standard length of up to 23 years. The funds then are earmarked for surrounding infrastructure improvements.

Kamp said he could not predict the impact of a Walmart, saying it could help or hurt business.

“That’s a shot in the dark,” Kamp said. “We’ve had (Walmart) stores open around us in other areas where there’s been little or no impact, and then we’ve had Walmart stores open real near us and (lost) 20 to 30 percent,” Kamp said. “So we really don’t know until it happens.”

Editor's Note: To read what other local business owners and employees had to say about the Walmart project in Ellisville, .

Ellisville Mayor Adam Paul, and was one of two council members to oppose Walmart’s construction, has said Kmart would close if a Walmart gets built.

Kamp said he spoke to City Councilmember Matt Pirrello, who finished his second term as mayor in April, about the Walmart proposal, and while he understood the project’s appeal to the City Council, objected to Sansone Group’s claim that the project would not have happened without creating a TIF district.

“Anytime you get competition … it’s not something you want to have happen but you can’t stop it,” Kamp said. ”The only thing I didn’t like about it? If Walmart really wanted to put a store there, they’re going to put it there whether they got $15 million from the city or not. And the city didn’t seem to understand that. Those councilmen were afraid, I think.”

The project, which would create a Walmart Superstore southwest of Manchester and Kiefer Creek roads, did not receive the majority endorsement of the , which included representation from multiple local public bodies, including a city appointee, the Rockwood School District, St. Louis County and the county library. At that March meeting, principal developer Jim Sansone said a TIF was "vitally important" for the project and later said Walmart would not build without the use of a TIF.

“No matter what the developer says, they always tell you ‘Well they’re not going to go there if they don’t get (a TIF). But if they really want to put a store there, they’re going to do it. “

Kamp said the overall impact on sales revenues for a store like his would probably suffer the first month a major competitor locates nearby before sales would rebound. Although no timeline for the project has been made public, Sansone said the company would like to break ground this year.

“As soon as they open and have their grand opening, you’re going to feel the impact immediately, but after about the first three weeks, it should ease up,” Kamp said. “But what the long-term impact is, I don’t know.”

Kamp said a possible decrease in sales probably will not result in significant staffing reductions.

“I don’t think it will be a lot,” Kamp said. “I think it will be minimal.”

Kamp noted that because of the area’s geographic makeup and the store’s occasional seasonal employment of younger staff, there usually is some degree of turnover year round.

“We have continual part time openings.”

Michael Rhodes May 19, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Completely off topic here. I just couldn't pass this up. Tom Hanks is one (if not my favorite) actor. The qoute was spoken by a fictional character, so it really should be attributed to the author of the book. Now my all time favorite movie line/quote: "What's the matter Colonel Sanders? Chicken?" Lord Helmet (Rick Moranis) from Space balls. Laughing as I write this!
K James May 19, 2012 at 11:15 PM
Liz; It was not a lefthanded compliment. It is also a favorite movie of mine, and I see the determination in you that is all. It is just hard on this thing to show emotional intent when offered. I have several times, even with you calling me names, that I admire your tenacity on this topic.
K James May 19, 2012 at 11:20 PM
We don't see eye to eye on this issue, that is a fact. None the less, the way you see things is just different from mine, no better no worse, just different. I have lots of friends on both sides of this issue, and at no point do we call eachother names while discussing the topic. I know this is a hard thought, but you can disagree and have discussion without 'declaring world war 3' as mayor put it on the radio this week.
E. Schmidt May 20, 2012 at 11:27 AM
K James- I find the constant claims re: "the politics of personal destruction" and "name calling" to be full of hyperbole. Here's a hint-- If you need a dictionary, I didn't call you a "name." If and when I decide to call you a "name," you won't have to go to the OED to find the definition. It will be more than evident. Example: "snide carpy" from your comment above. No need to go to a dictionary for that.
E. Schmidt May 20, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Agreed Rod. Unfortunately, the City Council isn't required by law to do that. When they were bombarded with overwhelming negative response to the Sansone Wal-Mart TIF the simply and conveniently ignored it and voted "Yes" on May 2nd at the final reading. Of course they have 30 days to reverse themselves...

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