The owners of Country Club Center hope to give the aging shopping plaza a face-lift. If City Council approves plans for a Community Improvement District, future customers could help pay for the renovation.
CIDs elsewhere in the city have been used to help pay for infrastructure improvements at new developments or for ongoing maintenance and other services downtown and on Commercial Street. If approved, this would be the first time the special tax district has helped fund an entirely private project.
Once anchored on the north by Smillie’s grocery store, the shopping center at Glenstone Avenue and Bennett Street houses a variety of shops including Cosmic Fish and Springfield Leather Co.
Well, there it is, then. We’ve reached the ad absurdum of the special taxing districts. Here’s a property owner looking to levy taxes on customers of its customers to pay for improvements to a downwardly mobile strip mall that no longer houses a grocery store or an election year GOP HQ but does have a head shop, a tattoo parlor, a discount smoke shop, and a combination leather goods / bead shop.
In a capitalist system, the owner would fund the improvements and raise the rents on the current or future tenants. But in the hybrid-and-rapidly-becoming-solely-cronyist system we have, the owner gets to levy taxes on its tenants customers for the project. Or might very well. That is, through the use and abuse of these special districts, every strip mall in Springfield will have the same legitimate claim to raise sales taxes on customers who shop there. Why not? Jared got it.
Full disclosure: I have bought a strip of miscut leather at the Springfield Leather Company this year, so I would be on the hook for an extra penny every so often. So obviously I’m making this argument because it would impact me personally and not on principle.