Professor William Black, former federal bank regulator and current economic professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia, wrote the book 'The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One.' His book focuses on misdeeds done from within an organization. I believe the best way to rob a city is through Tax Increment Financing (TIF). The principle is the same.
Those within the City of Ellisville, the majority of the council and several members of the staff, robbed local fire departments and local schools of taxes due them by providing TIF for development. Would Parkway and Rockwood School Districts be making severe budget cuts had they received all tax funding that technically is due them?
TIF provides a financial advantage to those receiving the credit. The Ellisville city attorney told the council that Wal-Mart could not build their project without $15 million in public funding. In 2012, Wal-Mart sales were $444 billion. That is billion with a 'B.' Allocating $15 million in TIF for the largest retailer in the world robs small businesses and 'mom and pop' type stores, prior to Wal-Mart the backbone of our Country, of the ability to compete on a level playing field. In the book 'Wal-Mart EGOnomics,' author Charles H. Hood documents how Wal-Mart 'successfully eliminated our Country's tier of 'mom and pop' retailers.'
And finally, the process used to approve Ellisville Wal-Mart TIF robbed the majority of residents of the ability to be heard. Hundreds of residents spoke at meetings, canvassed neighborhoods, and contacted their council members. And the project was still approved?
The disheartening aspect of a Wal-Mart building in Ellisville is that they will put their big box, Chinese vending machine store, not on a vacant lot, but on a residential area. More than 250 Ellisville residents will be forced to move. These residents will directly feel the impact of Wal-Mart, as will the entire small business community in the region.
Is the function of government to assist big business to the harm of small business and local residents?
Edward M. O'Reilly
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