Mayor comments on ‘border war’ over economic development at LRA meeting

While a "border war" does not grow the economy of the metro area, Wyandotte County is not in the position to turn down any jobs, Mayor Mark Holland said on Tuesday evening at the Leavenworth Road Association meeting. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)
While a “border war” does not grow the economy of the metro area, Wyandotte County is not in the position to turn down any jobs, Mayor Mark Holland said on Tuesday evening at the Leavenworth Road Association meeting. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)

by Mary Rupert

Mayor Mark Holland on Tuesday evening commented on the “border war” aspect of a business move across the state line by saying, “I don’t think we in Wyandotte County are in a position to turn down jobs.”

Mayor Holland was referring to the Dairy Farmers of America move to Kansas City, Kan., announced earlier Tuesday. He made his remarks at a meeting of the Leavenworth Road Association.

Dairy Farmers of America announced Tuesday it would move its main headquarters from Kansas City, Mo., to Kansas City, Kan., where it will build a $30 million office building at 98th between Parallel Parkway and State Avenue.

Mentioning the announcement during his speech, Mayor Holland said DFA would bring 325 jobs to Kansas City, Kan., and the jobs average about $90,000 a year.

Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Sly James, however, in a news release earlier Tuesday, stated that this move from the I-29 area in Kansas City, Mo., to near the I-435 area in Kansas City, Kan., would not create any new jobs. James continued in the news release, “We can no longer define economic development as engaging in self-destructive bidding wars with our neighbors who, like us, could put these funds to more productive purposes.”

“It continues to ignite the discussion about the border war,” Mayor Holland said Tuesday evening about the move. “My statement on the border war is this, I don’t think it grows the economy of the whole metropolitan area when companies take incentives to jump across. I don’t think we in Wyandotte County are in a position to turn down jobs,” Mayor Holland said.

Having donated a number of businesses to other communities through the years, Wyandotte County understands the pain of losing a company, he said.

“The local incentives we gave were the standard local incentives we give to any office project,” he said about the DFA move.

Incentives burn off eventually and state law now allows only a maximum abatement of 10 years, he said.

“We’re excited about it; it’s bittersweet because we’re not looking to take jobs from other people but at the same time we’re celebrating the continued growth at Village West,” Mayor Holland said. “We want to grow the office and the housing out there.”

The mayor also discussed several other subjects on Tuesday night. The mayor’s contest will not be on the ballot until 2017.

The Leavenworth Road Association, meeting at the Eisenhower Recreation Center, 2901 N. 72nd, Kansas City, Kan., also heard speeches from two candidates who attended the meeting, Mark Gilstrap and Melissa Bynum, running for the 1st District at large Unified Government Commission position this spring. There are seven candidates for the position, which covers the northern half of Wyandotte County. The election will be March 3.

Gilstrap, a former state senator and a former city treasurer who is now retired from the UG, said it was important to have someone who could step into the commissioner position immediately, and not has to be trained for a year and a half.

He promised to be a watchdog for the citizens’ hard-earned tax money, and also said he was the only state senator who never voted for a property, sales, income, gas and alcohol tax increase.

Bynum, a former executive director of the Leavenworth Road Association who is now the executive director of the Shepherd’s Center, promised to take a portion of the sales tax revenue bonds that will be paid off and use them for tax relief. Also, she said she supports continued economic development.

She was active in the effort to consolidate the city and county governments almost 20 years ago, and she said that and residents’ work in their neighborhoods had laid the groundwork for everything that has come to the community since then. She emphasized her community service, saying “everything I do is for the betterment of the community.”

Mark Gilstrap, a candidate for Unified Government Commission, 1st District at large, emphasized his experience and told the audience at the Leavenworth Road Association meeting Tuesday night that he had not voted for tax increases. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)
Mark Gilstrap, a candidate for Unified Government Commission, 1st District at large, emphasized his experience and told the audience at the Leavenworth Road Association meeting Tuesday night that he had not voted for tax increases. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)

Melissa Bynum, a candidate for Unified Government Commission, 1st District at large, told the audience Tuesday evening at the Leavenworth Road Association meeting that she would be in favor of using part of the funds that become available after STAR bonds are paid off to reduce property taxes. She emphasized her community service. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)
Melissa Bynum, a candidate for Unified Government Commission, 1st District at large, told the audience Tuesday evening at the Leavenworth Road Association meeting that she would be in favor of using part of the funds that become available after STAR bonds are paid off to reduce property taxes. She emphasized her community service. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)

The Leavenworth Road Association meeting Tuesday night was at the Eisenhower Recreation Center in Kansas City, Kan. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)
The Leavenworth Road Association meeting Tuesday night was at the Eisenhower Recreation Center in Kansas City, Kan. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)

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