Advertisements

The St Louis Contrarian

Providing Independent and Intelligent Insight on St. Louis Public Policy Issues

Archive for the category “economic development”

Beyond Housing

In writing about great organizations in St Louis Beyond Housing is probably the best. They have been in business for years and fully realize that community development must be comprehensive and is hard work. 

They are focused on Pagedale  and the Normandy School District. Their projects include housing development and rehab,homeownership training, foreclosure prevention,and economic development. They have brought a movie theatre, grocery store, and bank  to the area. They have created the 24:1 imitative which is bringing the smaller communities together to meet common goals.

Their leader is Chris Krehmeyer a talented, passionate, and caring individual. I am proud of their work

Advertisements

Better Together

Better Together is a non profit group formed to help bring the region together and eliminate redundant units of government and has indicated the unnecessary spending levels caused by the large number of governmental units. I have a little concern with the group because the board consists of the same old moneyed interests that have guided St. Louis down the tubes. Nevertheless, I welcome every effort to improve our feudal and futile governmental system. They have recently released a report that again documents the terrible costs of a large number of small governments. Here is their vision statement:

VISION

Striving together to create a just and prosperous Saint Louis region.
MISSION

We support the St. Louis region by acting as a catalyst for the removal of governmental, economic, and racial barriers to the region’s growth and prosperity for all of our citizens by promoting unity, trust, efficiency, and accountability.
COMMITMENTS
We are committed to fact driven research to address the challenges of fragmentation in the region and to inform policy.
We are committed to open and direct dialogue with all constituencies and stakeholders for the greater good of our community.
We are committed to supporting organizations that share our mission and vision.

Here is the announcement about the report. I urge you to read this and look into what you can do to bring the region together. The St. Louis region will not prosper until these issues are addressed:

Better Together Releases Report Showing Government Spending in St. Louis Continues to Grow, Announces Task Force to Study Models and Propose Solutions
Jun 12, 2017 |
Better Together Releases Report Showing Government Spending in St. Louis Continues to Grow, Announces Task Force to Study Models and Propose Solutions
Government spending continues to grow in St. Louis—fueled by 100 tax increases during the last five years—new task force to study models and propose solutions
Introduction
Today, Better Together released an update to one of its essential studies that they performed in 2014 and revealed the next steps for the organization.
The original study—Regional Spending Comparison Overview—reported that overall spending for municipal services in St. Louis was $2.3 billion and that when compared to Indianapolis and Louisville, two cities that have consolidated their governments, St. Louis was spending between $750 million and $1 billion more per year. Researchers at Better Together were curious as to what had happened with spending over the last three years and undertook to update this report.
Spending for municipal services grew by $119 million
The overall spending for municipal services has grown to $2.5 billion annually. This is due to an increase of $119 million in just the past three years. “Our research shows that our region is spending $119 million more per year than we were just three years ago. This increased spending was paid for largely through 100 tax increases. At the same time, 2016 census estimates show that population declined in both the city and county by 8,625 persons overall. So, we are paying more to deliver the same services to fewer people,” said Dave Leipholtz, Director of Studies for Better Together. “By way of comparison, our peer cities of Indianapolis and Louisville continue to grow and thrive.”
A call to action
“The next phase of our Better Together project is to identify and report on governmental reforms that can improve the cost and effectiveness of St. Louis’ municipal services,” said Nancy Rice, Executive Director of Better Together. To that end, Better Together is forming a task force which will lead this next phase and ultimately issue reports and recommendations to the community. Leading the task force will be:
Suzanne Sitherwood, President and CEO of Spire (formerly Laclede Group), who came to St. Louis from Atlanta and has become deeply involved with her new home community. She is the incoming Chair of Civic Progress and Chair of the community-wide United Way campaign, and previously chaired the Saint Louis Regional Chamber.
Will Ross, Associate Dean for Diversity, Professor of Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine. Dr. Ross has a long and distinguished record of involvement in the St. Louis community and served as Chairman of the Missouri Foundation for Health.
Arindam Kar, Partner at the international law firm of Bryan Cave LLP. Kar specializes in anti-trust litigation. He, his wife and five children call south St. Louis county home. Mr. Kar is active in the community, devoting time to the International Institute, the United Way, the Regional Business Council Young Professionals Network, and the Gateway Region YMCA.
How should St. Louis government be organized?
The Task Force and Better Together staff will endeavor to issue reports and recommendations on ideal governmental structures for St. Louis. To accomplish that, they will work with other community organizations and the general public. “We want to give St. Louis residents the opportunity to choose an ideal governmental structure—one that will provide high quality services in a cost-effective manner,” said task-force member Suzanne Sitherwood. Another member, Dr. Will Ross agreed, “we aspire to create a region steeped in racial, social, and economic equity where everyone can achieve their full potential. We hope to recommend a structure that allows the St. Louis region to provide opportunities for all our citizens while celebrating the uniqueness that has made St. Louis a wonderful place to call home.”
Mayor Krewson and County Executive Stenger endorse effort
Mayor Lyda Krewson and County Executive Steve Stenger attended Better Together’s press conference and showed support for this effort.
“Over the last two years I’ve seen the limitations that our current structure places on us. It frequently prevents us from changing and adapting to the times we live in. Businesses struggle with our fragmentation,” said County Executive Stenger. “In order for us to reach our true potential, we must make some changes. I’ve heard many solutions talked about, and without a formal presentation of options and without a deep dive and a thorough analysis we will not know which path forward is the correct one. But I know it’s time for us to look hard at the alternatives, to perform the necessary analysis, and choose a path forward with respect to these issues.”
Mayor Krewson agreed. “I recognize that the city is going to have to change in order to thrive. I said that many times during my campaign and these first several weeks in office have affirmed that opinion. I’m grateful to Better Together and the task force for taking this on and I look forward to their findings.”
Stenger and Krewson pledged to work with the Task Force as needed. “The time for this effort is now,” said Stenger.
To view the updated report in full, visit: http://www.bettertogetherstl.com/regional-comparison.

Community-Based Studies:
General Administration Study
Parks & Recreation Study
Public Safety Study
Public Health Study
Economic Development Study
Public Finance Study
Quick Resources
Data Library
Wiki
Sign Up
Request A Speaker
Donate
Recent Posts
Better Together Releases Report Showing Government Spending in St. Louis Continues to G

St. Louis Development Guidelines

The City of St. Louis has issued draft development guidelines for the use of incentives. This material is very important and perhaps controversial. Here is the link:

https://www.stlouis-mo.gov/government/departments/sldc/documents/upload/Development_Incentives_Input_Session_FINAL_06-08-17.pdf

Development Incentives in St. Louis

The City of St. Louis has for years handed out huge development subsidies in the form of TIFs, tax abatement, and other measures. They also offer soft second loans on developments which usually do not need to be paid back. Are these incentives effective? It is difficult to know. The Board of Aldermen Hud Committee is proposing a more rational approach to this issue and is gathering testimony from the public. Everyone involved in development needs to pay close attention.

My take on incentives is that it is difficult to use a formula to provide incentives. Ideally the development getting help would not be built without the incentives and the project would provide a real boost to the city. The Chase Park Plaza Hotel comes to mind. There would be less need for incentives if the city had a more rational, and fair permitting and development process. Most developers tell me the city is the most difficult place to do business.

Economic Development Agencies in St. Louis

I have always wondered about Economic Development Agencies. Lately there appears to be great turmoil at the Regional Chamber directed toward its’ President Joe Regan. All I know about that is what I read in the newspapers The Post had an extensive story about it today. What is curious to me is that apparently Mr. Regan’s alleged abusive behavior was also evident in his previous job in Louisville. Why did they hire him? Did they check his background?

More important, what do these agencies accomplish? They provide huge salaries to their staff, but what are the certifiable outcomes? What have been their legislative accomplishments in Jefferson City? I am going to write more about this topic in the future with data to back me up. I would like to hear of your experiences with these organizations

Used of CDBG Funds in St. Louis

The Community Development Block Grant is a program devised by HUD to provide flexible funds to community to meet broad based urban development needs. Cities of over 50,000 people receive the funds on a categorical basis based upon poverty etc. St. Louis is of course one of these cities receiving funds by formula. The use of the funds is to address community development, housing, economic development in a way that the local community plans. The city receives an allocation of millions of dollars a year. The amount has declined but is substantial.

The city has misused much of this funding. Instead of concentrating funding on the areas of greatest need, the funds are divided equally among the 28 wards. This of course waters down the effect and provides the aldermen a slush fund for pet projects, which may have nothing to do with broader priorities of the city. When I worked for the St.Louis Housing Authority we needed city wide targeting of block grant funds to get $28 million from HUD for the Darst-Webbe demolition and redevelopment. This commitment was tough to get. Funds have been used to over rehab houses in very poor locations, or to create non profits which accomplish little. HUD shares in the blame because they have lacked the courage to challenge the city on these policies. I intend to do some detailed reporting on this subject in the future.

Jerry Schlicter

This is the second in my series about local good guys. Jerry is a personal injury attorney who has been quite successful. He is now going after employer based 401-k accounts for overly high administrative fees and too low rates of return

Jerry has accomplished two major things for the city of St Louis and State of Missouri. First he took the lead in getting the State historic Tax Credit program approved. This program has resulted in the preservation of thousands of historical buildings and the generation of the investment of Hugh sums of money in our communities.

Second he started and chairs the St Louis Arch Grants which provide startup funds for promising new businesses. 

What impressed me the most about Jerry is that both these endeavors do not benefit him directly. He is just a civic minded citizen

Government Merger

I applaud the efforts of leaders in our community who are advocating a city/county merger. It is hard for me to imagine how we could be hurt by such an effort. We are wasting billions of dollars structured the way we are 

Equally important is the merger of the various municipalities and taxing authorities in our region. Some of these communities exist primarily off ticket revenue. This level of disfunction has increased the likelihood of racial profiling. Indeed African Americans have been hurt most by this structute. It troubles me that African American communities have resisted change

Short of complete merger how about a combining of functions. Unified police,fire, and recreation departments come to mind 

I am reminded of the adage, no system is do broken someone doesn’t like it the way it is

Short Sighted Action by State of Missouri

David Nicklaus had a good column today in the Post in which he lamented the loss of state funds that support business startups statewide, but particularly in the St. Louis area. These programs return far more in jobs and revenue than they cost. The St. Louis start up scene has been growing exponentially, we need to keep that up.

Metrolink

Metrolink our light rail system has been a favorite cause for progressives. We have heard all kinds of promises about how it would lead to economic development, cause St. Louis to become a world class city and cure cancer(just kidding). I believe it has been a failure, wasted hundreds of millions of dollars and increased crime. If you don’t believe me just ask merchants in the Loop or at Galleria. Recently someone was held up at gunpoint in broad daylight at the Metro station in Clayton, normally one of the safest cities in the region.

To make matters worse, efforts are now underway to expand Metrolink. There are many reasons why this is a bad idea. They include:

1. The cost is enormous
2. St. Louis is too sparsely populated to sustain the system
3. More people are working at home and don’t need to commute.
4. The job market is dispersed.
5. With light rail we are stuck with a given route. If conditions change there is no room for flexibility.
6. Self driving cars and van pools can be utilized to provide cheap and flexible transportation.

A vital public transportation system is still important. Metrolink has stood in the way of a viable bus system. I recommend lots of buses with flexibility in their routes, van pools, and other means of public transportation. The money spend on Metrolink can well be used to provide our region with a world class public transportation system.

Post Navigation