How did we do that? Gathering data for our coverage of tax-increment financing

“There is terror in numbers. […] Perhaps we suffer from a trauma induced by grade-school arithmetic.”
-Darrell Huff, How to Lie with Statistics

The Missourian has just published a report outlining tax-increment financing, its history in Missouri and plans to increase the practice in parts of the city, including the entire First Ward. This piece was painted, in part, by data obtained through an open records request to the Missouri Department of Economic Development for figures from annual reports filed by cities statewide between 2007 and 2011.

Cities are legally obligated to file these reports, and in 2009 the Missouri General Assembly attempted to beef up enforcement and transparency by instituting a five-year moratorium on creation of new districts for non-compliant cities.

The data cited in the story and provided below constitutes only those reports submitted to the state. We have converted the original Microsoft Access files provided from the department into Excel files, so that they can be opened by Mac and PC users alike. Click the link below to download the desired Excel file (.xls). Your download should open in a new window.

Download 2007 Local TIF Report (.xls)

Download 2008 Local TIF Report (.xls)

Download 2009 Local TIF Report (.xls)

Download 2010 Local TIF Report (.xls)

Download 2011 Local TIF Report (.xls)

If you do not have a copy of Microsoft Excel, the .xls files can alternatively be opened using the open-source (and free to download) program OpenOffice Calc.

To show you how we arrived at the numbers provided in the article, we have also created a Word file (.doc) of query statements used in the MySQL database manager software and the results those queries returned. That download is available below and should open in a new window as well.

SQL audit trail for TIF story (.doc)

If you have any questions about the process of investigating the data or difficulty downloading the files, contact Missourian Public Life reporter Kip Hill via email. As always, thanks for reading!

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