Letters (Dec. 15, 2010)

Mercy to Westboro not without risk


As I write this, it looks like Westboro Baptist Church has delayed picketing Marion churches until this Sunday. I cannot imagine a group with a more offensive behavior.

But one question keeps coming back to me. What would Jesus do if confronted with a group like this? Would he attack? Would he argue? Would he ignore them?

Probably not. It is more likely he would do the harder thing. He might invite them in out of the cold, inside his church, and try to show them God’s love.

This group is filled with hate, and their hate provokes more hate. In some twisted way, they may feel validated by this. I don’t know how many members Westboro has, probably some followers, and some true believers. I know there are children involved.

There are risks in showing Christ’s love to this group. They may insult, provoke or even misinterpret it as condoning their behavior. But if even one member is touched by God’s love, it would be worth it.

I confess I don’t know if I would be able to show compassion to these people, especially if they had picketed a funeral of a friend. I do not mean to criticize those who feel hostile and bitter. You have good reason.

Maybe this is a test from God. We all know he works in mysterious ways.

Mike Brandt,


Some basics on tax increment financing


The City of Hillsboro will be financing a tax increment (TIF) project shortly to fund the cost of improvements we made to help Midway Motors develop on Hillsboro Business Park property. I want to try to explain the value of using tax increment financing as a means of promoting economic development.

The first point to understand is that Midway Motors selected the site in Hillsboro Business Park (HBP) because it gave them the visibility they wanted for their business. Other available land in Hillsboro didn’t give them the U.S. Highway 56 exposure that the HBP does. That decision leads to the city needing to prepare the property so they could build.

The second point is Midway needed access and utility services that were not available either. Those are costs that would be either part of the land costs we charge when the property is purchased by Midway, or part of a special assessment that would be financed with their full business financing package.

The other alternative is to use TIF. Ultimately, the city has to pay for the improvements.

Shortly, the city will issue a bond issue that will repay the development expenses. The revenue source to pay the bonds will come from property taxes paid by Midway.

In this fashion, Midway’s taxes pay for the improvements made to get the property ready for their building. Property taxes from Hillsboro taxpayers do not go to the debt payment.

So how do we develop the numbers? Three numbers go into figuring how to determine how the bond is financed: base value, new property value, and increment.

Base value is the assessed value the entire property has before any improvements are started. In the case of HBP, it is raw land. Those values are determined by the county. (The city does pay property tax on those parcels, by the way).

City, county, school district and Kansas property taxes are collected on the base value. The TIF district also includes the AMPI property. The property value of existing AMPI and HBP facilities is valued at $131,232. The lot values of HBP vary from $1,000 to $3,000. The accessed value for AMPI is $112,000

The new property value will be the assessed value of the existing property and all the improvements Midway does. New value does not include furniture and fixtures. It does include the new building, parking lots and other land improvements Midway makes to get the new business site up and running. New value also includes the base value.

The number calculated here is basically a guess based on what Midway is spending on the building and related land costs. To calculate this number, we have enlisted the assistance of the county assessor. Our best guess at the moment is the value of the new facility will be $800,000.

The difference between new value and base value is called the increment. This value is what the property tax levy will be calculated on to provide the revenue for paying the bonds. Tax on all the district property—Midway and the city of Hillsboro—will generate about $28,000 each year. Those taxes will go toward paying bonds we get for reimbursing our development costs.

One of the comments we hear is that this takes away the other entities’ tax revenues. In a sense that is true, but is also false. If it weren’t for the TIF project, those property taxes would go to the city, county and school district.

In another sense, we could use an industrial revenue bond to have the business pay for the cost of improvements. Using an IRB, the property taxes are eligible for tax abatement as well.

Regardless of the method of economic incentive, property taxes for the project do not go to the city, county or school district.

Using the TIF method, we have a business paying for the cost of improvements as they directly apply to his property. The community sees this business as paying his/her taxes just as they do. Let me write that again: The community sees this business as paying his/her taxes just as they do.

For the most part, when citizens see businesses paying their taxes, they are more inclined to support the business and it will be successful.

Larry Paine, administrator

City of Hillsboro

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