Editorials

Rasp Farm grows TIF funds, not much else

Rasp Farm is in the heart of O’Fallon, along Interstate 64, but city leaders in 2010 decided it needed a $2.66 million tax increment financing infusion to succeed. Nothing has developed at the site.
Rasp Farm is in the heart of O’Fallon, along Interstate 64, but city leaders in 2010 decided it needed a $2.66 million tax increment financing infusion to succeed. Nothing has developed at the site. Provided

Maybe O’Fallon could have created a detention pond and solved flooding in subdivisions along Interstate 64 for less than $2.66 million. So far that’s the only tangible benefit from their tax investment with developers of the old Rasp Farm, unless you want to count the fire hydrants protecting all that vacant land.

Rasp Farm received $2.66 million in tax increment financing funds from O’Fallon, but little has been done other than the pond and hydrants. The one thing generating tax dollars was a strip mall on the property that is now closed.

Why the development, stretched along Interstate 64, needed the boost of tax dollars is anyone’s guess. It is difficult to believe city leaders in 2010 had so little faith in that interstate’s ability to spur development that they could only see Rasp Farm succeeding with an injection of public dollars.

Now developer Steve Macaluso, after facing a rough economy shortly after the purchase, has lost a senior development community and gained an inquiry about a medium-sized office building. He came to this conclusion: “But you just have to let businesses tell you what it’s going to look like. Just because I have a dream doesn’t make it right. I’m not a fortune teller.”

Hmmm. If only our local cities were so wise.

They regularly use tax increment financing to pick winners and losers. They use tax dollars to bring in new business that competes with old business under the charade that property is “blighted.”

When you bet on one developer over another, sometimes you lose the bet.

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