Congressman Kevin Yoder, R-Kan., breezed through Gardner Monday morning to join city officials including Mayor Dave Drovetta, council members-elect Larry Fotovich, Dennis Pugh and Chris Morrow; and assistant city administrator Melissa Mundt, on a tour of the Coleman warehouse.
Members of the press were not allowed to take part in the tour at the behest of Coleman officials, according to a staff member in Yoder’s Washington, D.C. office.
“We’re out here today to see development in the community,” Yoder said in a meeting with The Gardner News following the tour. “Coleman is an exciting place and it shows the kinds of development that will be critical to the future of Gardner and Edgerton.”
Yoder noted that the Gardner Edgerton School District has one of the highest local property tax rates of any in the state.
“One of the ways you fix that is by bringing commercial development,” he said.
The Coleman warehouse received a 50 percent tax abatement from city officials when it was constructed in 2009. Yoder said sometimes abatements are necessary to compete with other cities, although he noted there’s a growing debate about whether the short term abatements pay out in the long run.
“And is it fair to the smaller businesses?”
Abatements, he said, are certainly more of a state issue than a federal one.
“I tread lightly in giving advice to local communities,” Yoder explained. “Given today’s competitive nature, it’s hard to compete without some incentives. Certainly there’s a limit to how many (incentives) can be utilized. That’s an issue for a community to decide.”
Yoder is in his first term in the U.S. Congress, and is one of 59 Republicans who voted against the recently-passed $38.5 billion budget compromise. He voted against the budget, because he believed the cuts were too small.
The pressure to vote otherwise from House leadership was enormous.
House leadership threatened members who voted against the bill with losing prime committee assignments and with losing earmarks in bills – which Yoder said he is not seeking.
He believes many of the 87 newly-elected Republicans hope to lead the way in changing how Washington works. He doesn’t want to let those who elected him down by caving to political pressures, he explained.
“Holding a committee over my head doesn’t work with me,” he said. “…We’ve had too many people in Washington playing go-along-to-get-along.”