Shrewsbury resident Eileen Dorsey sent the following letter to Patch. She has also sent it to the Shrewsbury city clerk's office as written testimony for tonight's TIF meeting.
As a Shrewsbury homeowner and an owner of three properties in the Affton school district, I am adamantly opposed to Tax Increment Financing. It is none other than a tax subsidy of corporate giants and greedy developers – an unnecessary corporate bailout. A business should be built or not built based on its own economic merits.
Unfortunately, the Shrewsbury city government is dominated by people who have an agenda. Their agenda is not the welfare of the entire Shrewsbury community but their own little clique community. When I moved back here in 1999, I was totally unaware that I had chosen to live on the wrong side of the tracks and that the mayor and Board of Aldermen would be allowed to take away my freedom to access Watson as well as my freedom to live in a safe area.
The Shrewsbury mayor and Board of Aldermen have the power to destroy. The destruction will not affect most of them but will affect those that live in the nearby community as well as those that live in and send their children and/or grandchildren to the Affton school district. Most of them live in the Webster school district but they will be deciding the fate of the Affton school district. The citizens of the Affton school district have no vote and no voice about their subsidy of Walmart.
We all know that TIF financing is a bad idea that keeps re-emerging because of greedy municipalities that have become money-eating machines that simply cannot live within their means. They have overbuilt and overextended and now expect taxpayers to bail them out. Shrewsbury has a spending problem not a revenue problem. Structural reform is desperately needed. How can a town of 6,000 citizens support such a huge city hall and huge pool? They cannot. Less than 15 percent of Shrewsbury property taxpayers use the pool. For just 6,000 citizens we probably do not even need a Shrewsbury government. Instead of talking about TIF financing, we should be considering cooperations, mergers and/or dissolving Shrewsbury.
Do we have more people with more money in the St. Louis metropolitan area? No. Do we need any more stores? No. The Maplewood Walmart is 7 minutes away and the Kirkwood Walmart is 10 minutes away. Target is 8 minutes away. We have a lot of places to shop but no money to spend.
It is immoral to give a corporate giant a financial advantage over mom-and-pop stores such as Lubeley’s Bakery. I have been going to Lubeley’s since I was a little girl. Their pastries and sandwiches are delicious and much healthier than food from China. But what happens if they are put out of business by Walmart? You are crushing the American dream.
I have lived in this area since 1953. I love where I live and I love the St. Louis metropolitan area but I despise what these very selfish and desperate municipalities are doing to harm our area. TIF financing has had numerous negative economic effects in Saint Louis County. It has increased government involvement in the economy, sparked abuse of eminent domain and made subsidies a permanent fixture of the development process. As a taxpayer I am tired of subsidizing the corporate giants and particularly those such as Walmart that continuously practice human rights abuses. The TIF tax subsidy shell game has resulted in negative growth for the St. Louis County area. Local government’s constant quest for retail tax incentives will harm the Shrewsbury community as well as St. Louis County’s economic growth over the long-term.
Why doesn’t Shrewsbury participate in the St. Louis County pool sales tax revenue? Is it because they have a spending problem? By pooling resources and revenues, the city, its residents, and its taxpayers would then benefit from development throughout the county.
The Shrewsbury mayor and city council have already bitterly divided the community. I do not think that the Shrewsbury community will ever recover from the irreparable harm that they have caused with the discrimination, dictator leadership style, secret meetings and patronizing comments.
Additionally, I want you to ask yourself, HOW MUCH IS A LIFE WORTH? If someone gets severely injured or killed crashing over others to buy a bargain 60” TV, fighting over some other “bargain” or weaving in and out of Walmart traffic, will you regret your decision? Is your huge power base for just 6,000 citizens really worth a life?
I urge the TIF commission and the Shrewsbury Board of Aldermen to reject this proposal.
M. Eileen Dorsey