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City officials, Harris family hopeful for future of Plattner development area
City officials, Harris family hopeful for future of Plattner development area

St. Robert city officials and the Harris family plan major commercial projects in this currently undeveloped area south of the BP gas station at Exit 159 of Interstate 44.
SAINT ROBERT, Mo. (March 15, 2010) — For now, the Plattner Community Improvement District is expected to generate only a small amount of revenue, but St. Robert City Attorney Kevin Hillman says both the developers and city officials have high hopes for its future.

“The typical yearly projected budget figure is a little over $20,000, but that depends on whether something comes in,” Hillman said. “When they did the original transportation district, it was small to start with and now it is big budgets.”

That “original transportation district” is a reference to the North Town Village/Interstate Plaza Transportation District, which covers the Wal-Mart and St. Robert Boulevard area northwest of Exit 161 on Interstate 44. Revenue from a special sales tax in that district has paid for major street improvements and other infrastructure, and that’s been key to much of the recent economic development of St. Robert.

The board of the new Plattner Community Improvement District consists of Hillman, St. Robert City Administrator Alan Clark, St. Robert Director of Public Works Lyle Thomas, and a father-and-son team, Gerald and Jerry Harris, who own the land development company that controls nearly 300 acres running south from the St. Robert BP gas station down through an undeveloped area to Superior, and also includes Peppers Sports Bar and some other business property owned by the Harrises. Businesses in that district will collect an additional 1 percent sales tax for a period of 30 years for a variety of specified purposes, mostly infrastructure and related public improvements.

“Hopefully someday we’ll have a nice big box shopping center there for folks to shop in and we can use some of the CID revenue to attract that kind of business,” Hillman said.

Meeting Friday afternoon at St. Robert city hall, the Plattner CID board of directors addressed mostly routine matters that lay the foundation for future development. Hillman presented a budget that anticipates revenues of $15,374, with CID taxes first being collected on April 1. About $6,000 of that will go toward costs for creating the district, $4,000 for legal fees, $231 to the city for administrative costs, and $1,980 for insurance payments.

Responding to questions, the Harris family members said they’d be willing to contact the owners of a neighboring business, Big O Tires, to see if they’d like to come into the district.

While the actual decision will have to be made by the property owners, not the business owners, Hillman said he doesn’t anticipate a problem if the business owners support coming into the district.

“If the (business leaseholder) wants it, normally the landowner will go along with it because normally they don’t want to make a leaseholder mad,” Hillman said.

Board members received and approved an ordinance prepared by the CID attorney, Rich Wood, of the Gilmore and Bell law firm, not to participate in the state’s sales tax holidays for school supplies and energy-efficient appliances.

“We have all these wonderful sales tax holidays in Missouri,” Hillman said. “Normally they have an opt-out provision which says cities and other districts can opt out.”

Board member Jerry Harris asked if there is any reason not to opt out of the sales tax holidays, which means businesses in the Plattner Community Improvement District would still collect sales taxes on school supplies and energy-efficient appliances.

“I would think you’d want to, wouldn’t you?” Harris asked. “You’re not going to be selling school supplies. Can you go back in later on if there is retail there?”

Hillman confirmed that the district board members could always change their position later.

“I actually don’t think whether we opted out or not would affect us one way or the other,” Hillman said.

Wood said many other municipalities and special districts in Missouri have been choosing to opt out of the holidays so they can still collect sales taxes.

“If you want to say, ‘Look we don’t think participating in these holidays is really going to give the CID any kind of positive press that people are going to be happy with us,’ a lot of the other ones have just been saying we prefer to have the revenue as opposed to any other type of positive press,” Wood said.

Elected officials for most but not all governmental units in the Fort Leonard Wood area decided last year to participate in Missouri’s statewide sales tax holiday for back-to-school purchasing, but Pulaski County, the city of Waynesville, and some other nearby communities did not participate.

That means people who shop at businesses in the cities of Crocker, Dixon, Richland, and St. Robert, as well as the unincorporated communities of Big Piney, Devil’s Elbow, Laquey, and Swedeborg, still paid a three-quarter-cent county sales tax on the weekend before most area schools started, and those who shopped in Waynesville paid a 3 percent combined city and county sales tax.

Anywhere in Missouri, the state sales tax rate of 4.225 percent is waived on that weekend for certain qualifying back-to-school purchases such as clothing, school supplies, and computers for a three-day period shortly before school begins. The details of a qualifying “back to school purchase” are that clothing must be $100 or less than per item, school supply purchases must be less than $50 per purchase, computer software must have a value of $350 or less, and computers or computer peripheral devices must be $3,500 or less per item.

The state of Missouri has another sales tax holiday that runs for seven days in April during which customers have a rebate of the state sales tax on purchases of energy-efficient appliances costing $1,500 or less. While cities and counties can participate in that holiday the only area community that chooses to participate in that sales tax holiday is Rolla, and no area counties participated.

After formal adjournment of the CID board but while a quorum of board members was still present, CID member discussed possible future projects which may include installing traffic lights or roundabouts on Old Route 66 at or near Plattner Avenue.

Gerald Harris said something needs to be done to control traffic.

“There are wrecks all the time on Plattner; it’s rough,” Harris said.

Thomas said single-lane roundabouts work to control traffic, but a multiple-line roundabout, such as what would be needed on Old Route 66, probably will not work.

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