Critics of Gateway Commons TIF voice opposition to new Gulfstream development

The revised version of the Gateway Commons development on Kentucky 54 already has some critics lining up to oppose it.

Paul and Mary Busse attended the Owensboro city commission meeting Tuesday night to voice their opposition to the “annexation agreement on steroids” that developer Gulfstream Enterprises is seeking for the $250-million mixed-use project.

The Busses had been part of a lawsuit against the city last year seeking to block a tax increment financing proposal that Gulfstream and the city of Owensboro had submitted to the state for a first version of Gateway Commons. The lawsuit was abandoned after the state rejected the partnership’s TIF application.

Gulfstream and its president, Matt Hayden, have now asked the city to expand the scope of its normal annexation agreement from five years to 20 years because of the size of the project and investment from Gulfstream.

Owensboro Mayor Tom Watson has said he is in favor of expanding the current annexation guidelines to offer additional incentives to developers, and city staff members are currently working on recommendations for those expanded incentives.

Under an annexation agreement, developers are able to recover the cost of public infrastructure in a development – roads, sidewalks and drainage work – from the property, net profits and occupational taxes the development generates. Lengthening the term of the agreement would mean more money for the developer to cover those costs.

Busse warned the city against entering into a 20-year agreement with a developer, arguing that the incentive is not needed in the bustling Kentucky 54 area and it sets a precedent for more such agreements in the future.

“When did our local government assume the responsibility of financing developers or is it just this particular group?” Busse asked. “Let’s not make any other mistakes with Gateway Commons that the taxpayers and voters will have to cover for 20 years.”

Hayden said last month that he was hoping to have the terms of an agreement with the city worked out in the next 90 days.

Update…

Owensboro City Manager Bill Parrish said Wednesday morning that the city commission will hear a proposal from Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp. President Nick Brake within the next 30 days for a new set of guidelines for annexation agreements with developers.

Parrish said the new guidelines would allow the city to evaluate development on a case-by-case basis to match incentives with the expected economic impact of the development on the local economy.

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