March 7, 2020

Mallory Herrmann

A tax increment financing (TIF) plan to help fund a new interchange at 291 North and Highway 50 is still under consideration. The TIF commission will continue their discussion of the project’s funding at their April 15 meeting. Commissioners voted unanimously in favor of a continuance of the public hearing, as requested by the school district, at their Feb. 26 session.

David Bushek, chief counsel of economic development and planning, presented the TIF proposal to the commission. The overview comes just a week after the city council approved a memorandum of understanding between the City of Lee’s Summit, the Missouri Office of Administration and the Missouri State Highway Patrol to help facilitate plans to move the highway patrol’s Troop A headquarters.

That relocation is one of many facets of the city’s plan to redirect Blue Parkway, the northern outer road, further north in order to complete a proper reconstruction of the highways’ interchange – and hopefully improve traffic safety in the area.

The TIF would create four project areas to collect additional tax revenues to help fund the relocation of the highway patrol, which has an estimated cost of $8.1 million on its own. The projected TIF revenues are projected to total approximately $4.3 million toward the relocation. The total cost of the project, including the interchange reconstruction itself, is $44.1 million

Bushek noted that early concerns from property owners, including some who spoke during the commission’s public comments period, have been related to fears over increasing property tax bills. But while he was sympathetic to the frustration of higher tax bills, he says that it would actually be a sign that the TIF is working.

“The goal of this TIF plan – and every TIF plan that you will ever hear – is to raise property values for the benefit of the taxing districts and the benefit of the community,” Bushek said.

Other concerns have centered around access to area businesses, particularly during construction, and the potential for changing access points to properties along 291, 7th Terrace and Blue Parkway. Bushek reminded the commission and members of the public that the issue at hand currently is simply the funding plan to facilitate the project.

While city staff have created conceptual diagrams of how Blue Parkway would be rerouted and the interchange would be renovated, the formal design phase has not yet begun.

“The primary focus tonight is the financing of this, and not the details of traffic and access and so forth,” Bushek said.

The city’s current timeline for the project indicates that design work will begin in January 2021, with construction of a new facility for Missouri Highway Patrol Troop A taking place in 2022. Construction on the interchange itself would begin in 2023, and the project would be fully complete in 2024.

Each component of those construction projects will require preliminary development plans, including public hearings and approval from the city council, to move forward.

The TIF commission will resume their discussion of the funding application at their April 15 meeting.