Elected officials in Johnson County and elsewhere often get swept up in their fervor to “do something” to promote economic development.
Shawnee officials are in that position as they rush to figure out a way to cut deals that would slice taxes for selected developers.
However, the facts show Shawnee should take a lot more time to make a diligent decision on this issue.
At stake is whether to temporarily suspend the city’s excise tax. That supposedly would appeal to developers hoping to build houses or businesses in the city, Johnson County’s third largest.
“In my opinion, if the city came out and said they would just declare a moratorium, you would have a gold rush,” real estate lawyer Lewis “Peter” Heaven said in a recent discussion with the Shawnee City Council.
But here’s an interesting point, culled from the most recent data provided by the Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City. It indicates the excise tax isn’t the devil that some developers make it out to be.
Through November of 2012, singly-family home construction permits issued in Shawnee totaled 129 — up more than 120 percent over the 58 permits issued in all of 2011.
That was without a moratorium on the city’s excise tax.
Plus, other large Johnson County cities such as Olathe, Overland Park and Lenexa that also have an excise tax have seen improvements in their single-family permits, as home building activity has picked up after several lethargic years.
But none of the other cities has had the level of success Shawnee has shown from 2011 to 2012.
Getting rid of Shawnee’s excise tax right now appears questionable without better evidence that such an action would really benefit the city or its residents.