(KMOV) – One of St. Louis’ biggest companies wants to move two blocks and that move may cost city taxpayers $8 million.
The St. Louis City TIF Commission approved the $8 million tax incentive for the developer of the vacant Gen America building in the heart of downtown. The developer plans to use that tax break to help Laclede move.
Critics are calling it a potential $8 million taxpayer ripoff.
David Stokes said, “It doesn't help grow the economy. It doesn't help grow downtown Saint Louis. It's just a very poor choice.” He is the policy analyst at the Show Me Institute.
“I think this is very poor public policy. I think using $ 8.1 million in TIF funds on top of other subsidies this project has to just move a group of employees from building a to building,” Stokes said.
Laclede Group, the parent of Laclede Gas, wants to move from their corporate headquarters on Olive Street to a vacant office building just two blocks away. The massive utility says it can't afford to make that move unless the developer gets the $8 million dollar tax break that will make the building more affordable for Laclede.
“I think it sends the signal that this money is just there for the taking,” Stokes said.
Laclede Vice-President Ellen Theroff says without the tax break Laclede will have to consider other locations that could be outside of the city.
“We're going to have to broaden our search if it doesn't happen,” said Theroff. "No threat. Just trying to figure out what we're doing.”
Laclede won't say if moving to the new location will create more jobs. Ellen Theroff insists a move by Laclede will be a good move for the city.
When asked where the net gain for the city if moving 500 people out of one building to another, Theroff said “So what the city will get out of this is a building brought back to life near Ballpark Village. We're contributing to the city in a big way there, and we're quite happy about that.”
Every job created by TIF costs $370,000 in tax money.
That was the finding of a study by the East-West Gateway Council of Governments.
The $8 million tax incentive that would help Laclede will now go to the St. Louis Board of Aldermen for a vote.