Proposed TDD would lead to higher sales tax

Tuesday, August 3, 2010 | 7:25 p.m. CDT; updated 11:26 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, August 3, 2010

COLUMBIA — A higher sales tax could await customers at a new commercial center on Grindstone Parkway. The tax would reimburse developers for construction costs.

A proposal asks to form a Transportation Development District on 25 acres across from the Walmart shopping center on Grindstone Parkway. The proposal was filed in civil court in July.

These districts, or TDDs, are formed to reimburse developers for infrastructure costs, such as building a new road within a development. A sales tax of up to 1 percent, along with other taxes within the TDD's boundaries, repays the developer over several years.

Although the percent has not been set for this TDD, the 13 active ones in Columbia use a .5 percent sales tax.

Nine road projects for the proposed "Grindstone Plaza Drive at Columbia TDD" are listed in court documents. They include a new intersection, road extensions, environmental measures and engineering fees.

These nine projects cost $4.25 million out of the total development cost of $45 million, according to court documents. The sales tax is expected to bring in $3 million in revenue over the next 20 years, which would only go toward the road projects.

Attorney David Knight said it was too early in the process to know with any certainty what the costs of the project will be and how much revenue the tax will bring in. He called the $45 million total a "wild guesstimate."

The land, owned by Red Oak Investment Company, was rezoned from agricultural to commercial in early May and is undeveloped. Hugh Stephenson Jr., former president of the UM System Board of Curators and former chief-of-staff at University Hospital, owns the company, along with his son, Ted Stephenson.

Knight wouldn't disclose the sale price on the land, but said they were looking for one developer to buy it all.

"Lets just say its worth a hell of a lot more than its worth for corn and soybeans," he said, chuckling.

To form a TDD, a petition has to work its way through civil court. Knight said he expected the TDD to form around the start of 2011, if not sooner.

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