No Taxation without Representation

Oppose Rolla TDD/TIF

For more information contact me: Tom Sager


of TDDs and TIFs
Latest TDD Update
Jan. 14, 2017

TDD formed. One cent sales tax to begin April Fools Day — Really — and WE are the fools!
Latest TIF Update
June 20, 2016

County commissioners postpone vote on TIF.
The Phelps County Commission meets at 9:00am,
Tuesdays and Thursdays in the Phelps County Courthouse

The Rolla City Council meets at 6:30pm on the first and third
Mondays of each month in Council Chambers at City Hall

Votes on the TIF have been postponed,
probably until after the primary election.

Contact Phelps County and Rolla City officials and/or
attend their meetings and ask them to

vote NO on Westside TIF

Click here for contact information for City and County officials

“most Americans couldn’t care less about economic growth because for years they’ve got few of its benefits, while suffering most of its burdens”
—Robert Reich

A Transportation Development District (TDD) is a separate political entity in which transportation infrastructural improvements in and near to the district can be funded by a tax levy on the businesses and properties within the district.

Tax Increment Financing (TIF) is also a separate entity and a scheme by which a designated developer may be reimbursed for his expenses in developing the TIF area out of increased taxes coming from the TIF area.

The proposed Move Rolla TDD, if approved by the courts, will add an extra penny sales tax to many of the businesses in the Rolla area including Kroger, Wal-mart and Aldi to fund street and highway improvements which would open up the area adjacent to the 184 interchange off I44 to commercial development. (The 4th Rolla supermarket, Price Chopper, has already added an additional penny sales tax as part of a Community Improvement District, a similar kind of entity.)

The proposed Westside Marketplace TIF, if approved by the Phelps County TIF commission, will give away taxes belonging to the city, county and school district to a St. Louis developer in exchange for developing an area adjacent to the 184 mile interchange off of I44.

Here is an overview of the city of Rolla's plans for Rolla's westside.

I am against the Rolla TDD/TIF because:
1. The TDD is taxation without representation. The TIF is a giveaway of tax revenues that belong to the people.

2. The additional tax on every supermarket in the Rolla area is particularly onerous. Groceries are a necessity and many Rolla area residents already have their budgets stretched to the breaking point.

3. Paying out-of-town corporations and developers to come to Rolla and compete unfairly with local businesses is unjust and unreasonable.

4. If this scheme is successful it could cost Rolla an unknown sum, which may require extra taxes, for improvements in police, fire, and schools and additional infrastructural improvements.

5. If the scheme fails, it is the people who pay.

6. These decisions, which will affect everyone in the Rolla area, are being made by a small group of people without even asking for approval from the voters.


January 14, 2017 TDD update

TDD formed. One cent sales tax to begin April Fools Day —
Really — and WE are the fools!

Not surprisingly, property owners in the TDD, receiving one vote per acre, voted overwhelmingly to form the Move Rolla Transportation Development District. The result would likely have been different if the people who pay the tax would have been allowed to vote. The TDD met on January 3 and approved a one cent sales tax to begin April 1 at Walmart, Kroger, Aldi, and many other stores in Rolla to pay for the Highway 72 extention to the 184 mile interchange of I-44 and other roads to the benefit of the proposed Rolla West shopping center.

How do you spell T-A-X-A-T-I-O-N W-I-T-H-O-U-T R-E-P-R-E-S-E-N-T-A-T-I-O-N?

September 21, 2016 TDD update

City calls for TDD election. Only TDD property owners may vote.

An election of the property owners in the proposed TDD has been called. Here is the court judgment calling the election. If you own property in the TDD you must request a ballot from the Phelps County Circuit Court Clerk (2nd floor, County Courthouse) by 5pm, Tuesday, October 4. You will need a deed or tax receipt to prove ownership of land in the TDD.

Judge Hickle has recused himself. John Beger is the new judge presiding over the TDD.

June 20, 2016 TIF update

County Commissioners postpone vote on
Westside Marketplace TIF

Rumor has it that one of the commissioners may be facing stiff opposition in the August primary and doesn't want to go on record as voting for the TIF right before the primary election.

June 20, 2016 TDD update

City publishes new timeline for TDD.

After a five month delay, perhaps due to challenges from irate citizens, the city has posted a new timeline for the TDD. If further challenges are mounted, they may result in further delays or kill the project entirely.

June 11, 2016 TIF update

County Commissioners to vote June 14 on
Westside Marketplace TIF

On June 6, the city and county went into a joint session behind closed doors to discuss the TIF. In an end-run around the Sunshine Law, they called it "contract negotiations."

The county commissioners will probably vote on the TIF on Tuesday, June 14. Meeting starts at 9:00am in the Phelps County Courthouse.

Please consider contacting your commissioners and/or attending their meeting on June 14 and asking them to vote this tax-giveaway down.

Here's the contact information for the Phelps County Commissioners:

Randy Verkamp 573-458-6120
Gary Hicks 573-458-6122
Larry Stratman 573-458-6121

The Rolla city council will meet on Monday, June 20 at 6:30pm in council chambers at city hall.

Please consider contacting the mayor, council and city administrator and/or attending their meeting on June 20 and asking them to vote this tax-giveaway down.

Here's the contact information for Rolla city officials:

June 11, 2016 TDD update

Judge Hickle grants city leave to amend TDD

Judge Hickle has granted the city leave to file an amended petition to form the Move Rolla TDD. Here is the amended petition.

May 24, 2016 TIF update

TIF Commission votes unanimously to recommend
Westside Marketplace TIF

At the meeting of May 18, the Phelps County TIF Commision consisting of Jim Packard, Aaron Zalis, Bob Whites, Merle Alderson, Kelly Long, Larry Stratman, Mike Duncan, Joyce Thomas and Mike Miller recommended unanimously that Phelps County adopt the Westside Marketplace TIF giving away some $22 million of taxes that you will pay to a St. Louis developer to build a shopping center for Menards — a reverse Robin Hood scheme — taking from the poor and giving to the rich.

This scheme must first be voted upon by the Phelps County Commission. They will probably vote the morning of Tuesday, June 7. That gives you six more days to call and email your commissioners and tell them to vote this tax-giveaway down. Then show up at 9:00 am, Tuesday, June 7 at the Phelps County Courthouse and tell your commissioners face to face to vote NO.

Here are the minutes of the March 23 meeting of the TIF commission and the minutes of the May 4 meeting of the TIF commission. The May 4 meeting was well attended with many citizens speaking out against the TIF. My presentation was an exposé of Menards. It is a part of the official minites.

The May 18th meeting was not so well attended; but several citizns spoke out against the TIF. Only one speaker was in favor. I presented a summary of all the reasons I've given them in the past to not recommend the TIF. I also gave this summary presentation to the county commissioners on May 24.

And here is the
resolution to recommend the Westside Marketplace TIF passed by the TIF Commission on May 18.

May 24, 2016 TDD update

City Moves to Amend the TDD

Because of errors and sloppy work, the city was forced to ask the Court for leave to amend the TDD petition.

I moved for leave to file suggestions in opposition as a friend of the Court. Judge Hickle granted my motion. I thank judge Hickle for considering my suggestions.

Judge Hickle will rule on the city's motion for leave to amend soon.

April 9 / April 16, 2016 TIF update

Menards has a long history of employee and environmental abuses

Menards is a bad actor with a long history of employee and environmental abuses. They should not be welcomed to Rolla much less given incentives to come.

Menards has been cited by the
National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)
for violations of federal law.

Workers must sign forced-arbitration agreements and agree that they will not participate in class action suits or sue Menards for any reason. Meanwhile, workers may be fired for any reason or no reason at all. In violation of federal law workers may be denied merit raises for participating in union activity.

Managers will have their pay automatically cut 60% if workers unionize. This sets workers and managers at each others throats.

Menards payed $1 million to settle a racial discrimination suit for passing up managers for promotion on the basis of their race.

Abused workers are not careful workers. Minutes after a Menards employee placed a pallet of tiles on a high shelf, it fell on a customer, killing him.

Menards is the worst environmental violator
in the State of Wisconsin

Bruce Murphy writes in Urban Milwaukee:
“Menard has been a poster boy for environmental violations in Wisconsin. His company has had more run-ins with the Department of Natural Resources than any other state company, receiving millions of dollars in fines for 21 violations. Menards was fined for disposing hazardous waste in 1994, charged by the Minnesota Attorney General in 2003 with manufacturing and selling arsenic-tainted mulch, fined $2 million in 2005 for having a floor drain that Wisconsin DNR officials believed was dumping chemicals into a tributary of the Chippewa River, hit with an administrative order from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for damaging a stream that ran through its property in South Dakota and fined $30,000 after an employee dumped a pallet of herbicide on a parking island of a Menard store in Onalaska.”
Kent Mueller adds:
“[John Menard] conned one of his teenage warehouse employees into helping him load his pick-up truck with bags of illegally removed asbestos pipe insulation and then proceeded to dump it in a nature preserve”
In addition

Corruption: Menard wrote more than $1.5 million in checks to a pro-Walker political advocacy group and received $1.8 million in special tax credits from a state economic development corporation that Wisconsin governor, Scott Walker chairs.

Legal bullying: Menards has a habit of sueing cities for over-assessment of Menards property.

Boycott: There is a campaign on social media to boycott Menards


In short, if Menards comes to Rolla, they will cause nothing but trouble. How can a small city of 20,000 people stand up to a multi-billionaire bully like John Menard? Menards should be encouraged to go elsewhere and definitely not offered any incentives to come to Rolla.

Proponents of bringing a Menards to Rolla cite:

Jobs: But what kind of jobs will Menards bring to Rolla? Minimum wage jobs where workers risk being fired for even whispering the word “union,” and managers fear a 60% pay cut should workers succeed in forming a union. I don't believe Rolla needs these kind of jobs.

Taxes: It is quite likely that Rolla would lose tax revenue should the TIF succeed and bring Menards to Rolla. With Lowes, Meeks and the Family Center already in Rolla, the home-improvement builder-supply market is saturated. It is likely that almost every dollar in sales at Menards would mean one less dollar of sales at another Rolla store. And the developer gets to keep half the tax revenue on sales at Menards — a net loss to Rolla and Phelps County.

I also believe that Rolla and Phelps County should break all ties with UTW Realty, the St. Louis developer, and Gilmore and Bell, the public finance law firm, neither of which bothered to tell us what a bad deal bringing a Menards to Rolla would be.


April 7, 2016 TDD update

Judge Hickle granted my motion to enter suggestions as a friend of the Court. The suggestions in Exhibit B of my Motion (pages 7 through 13) are now an official part of the Court record. I thank Judge Hickle for granting me status as a Friend of the Court.

Judge Hickle denied my motion to intervene as a respondent in opposition to the TDD because I do not live or own property in the proposed TDD.

March 29, 2016 update

TDD Updates

On March 28, Judge Hickle held a hearing on my motion to intervene in the Move Rolla Transportation Development District or in the alternative, present suggestion as a friend of the Court. We await Judge Hickle's decision.

On March 21, the City of Rolla and Phelps County filed a response asking the Court to deny my Motion to Intervene.

TIF Updates

The March 23 open hearing on the Westside Marketplace TIF was well attended by over 50 citizens, many of whom spoke out. Most were either outright opposed to the TIF or expressed serious reservations.

UTW, the St. Louis developer who is the “preferred developer” for the Westside Marketplace TIF was not prepared to present its scaled-back plan, so the open hearing has been continued, this time until 5:30 Wednesday, May 4, in the Phelps County Courthouse, room to be determined later. Their plan will likely be scaled back to a Menards Store only. So if the developer has his way, Rolla will pony up some $30 million through the TDD for road and highway “improvements” to bring traffic to the Westside Marketplace and another $7 million in TIF tax abatements for Menards to set up a store there to compete with Lowes, Meeks and the Family Center.

I mentioned that the project has been so scaled back by now, that if the TIF commission wants to plow ahead with this, they should go back to square one and issue a new Request for Proposals that do not necessarily require developing the entire 154 acres. Quite possibly a local contractor could develop 40 acres and bring in a store that carries a line of products not currently available in Rolla, perhaps even without the need for tax abatements.

On March 18, an anonymous entity sent out a mass mailing asking citizens to attend the March 23 TIF hearing and speak out. This mass mailing was likely at least partially responsible for the excellent turnout. One speaker, although agreeing for the mostpart with the anti-TIF opinions expressed in the mass mailing, expressed outrage that it was sent out anonymously. Knowing first-hand the way dissenters can be treated in Rolla, I can understand, although not necessarily agree with, those who sent out this mass mailing anonymously. I imagine that sending out these well-designed cards with 49 cents postage on each was not cheap, and whoever financed this mailing stands to lose from the proposed TIF.

For an example of what can happen to dissenters in Rolla, consider Donna Hawley, who was charged with felonious assault for attempting to attend a meeting. It took her four long years to clear her name.

I have posted the minutes of the February 24 meeting of the TIF commission here.

March 9, 2016 update

TDDs and TIFs are examples of special taxing districts. Here is a very humorous and informative 15 minute John Oliver video on special taxing districts.

February 27 update

I have filed a motion to intervene in the Move Rolla Transportation Development District case asking the Judge to deny the city of Rolla's petition to create the Transportation District. We await future developments.

The public hearing on the Westside Marketplace TIF has been continued again to Wednesday, March 23 at 5:30 pm when the TIF commission will meet in the multi-purpose room of the Phelps County Courthouse. Resistance to the TIF appears to be growing. Please make every effort to attend the March 23 meeting.

Here is my presentation from the February 24th meeting of the Phelps County TIF commission asking them not to TIF the Westside Marketplace area:

Here is an article in the Rolla Daily News on the Feb. 24 meeting of the TIF commission.

Here are the Minutes of the Jan. 27 meeting of the TIF commission.

And here are the Minutes of the Jan. 5 meeting of the TIF commission.


mid-February update

The public hearing has been continued to Wednesday, February 24 at 5:30 pm when the TIF commission will meet again in the multi-purpose room of the Phelps County Courthouse.


mid-January update

There will be a public hearing on the Rolla TIF at 5:30 Wednesday January 27 at the multi-purpose room of the Phelps County Courthouse. Here are two TIF documents:

The TIF Redevelopment Plan

The TIF Cost Benefit Analysis


Original post - early January

The proposed Rolla Transportation Development District (TDD), if approved by the courts, will likely impose an additional one cent sales tax on most businesses in Rolla including Kroger, Walmart and Aldi (The new "Price Gouger" already has an additional one cent sales tax as part of a new Community Improvement District). The one cent sales tax will go to the directors of the TDD which will be elected by the property owners in the district. The people who shop in these stores will have no say over whether the district is formed, who will be directors of the district, or how the tax revenue will be spent.

If the TDD is successful, it will likely be followed by a TIF (Tax Increment Finance) which will take tax dollars which rightfully belong to the city, county and school district and use them solely to build the proposed Rolla West Shopping Center, located to the West and North of Exit 184 off Interstate 44.

Here is the petition to create the TDD. The petition asks the court to approve a vote of property owners, and whatever few resident voters might reside in the district, on whether to form the TDD. It also lays out the basic properties of the TDD.

Here is a map showing in red the properties within the TDD. Note how the district has been gerrymandered to exclude all or almost all customers of the businesses within the district.

Here is a map showing the proposed "improvements" which will be funded by the additional one cent sales tax you will be paying.

For more information contact me: Tom Sager