Fairfield Ledger
http://fairfield-ia.villagesoup.com/p/1175881

Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 20, 2014

Eight new jobs hardly count as development

By Terry Smith | May 01, 2014

To the editor:

On behalf of myself and several other residents of Jefferson County, I’d like to express my concern that the infrastructure costs of the proposed Heartland Co-op project will end up costing Jefferson County taxpayers dearly.

While we strongly support farmers and their ability to bring grain to the most attractive markets, we feel that projects requiring road building and other infrastructure costs of this scale should benefit everyone in Jefferson County, and not just one industrial facility producing only eight long-term jobs.

This has the potential to be a bad deal for Jefferson County taxpayers because:

• Substantial new infrastructure development is needed to accommodate truck traffic to the facility from five surrounding counties;

• It will take 12 years of Heartland tax dollars to repay the $2.2 million Osage paving costs;

• Taxpayers will likely have to foot the $272,000 bill to partially pave Nutmeg Avenue.

• Eventually Nutmeg Avenue will have to be fully paved all the way to Salina Road to accommodate traffic from the north to the tune of an estimated $2.8 million dollars according to French-Reneker estimates. Will taxpayers pay for this as well? Or, will another 12 years or longer of Heartland tax dollars go to pay for that road?

So, either we looking at some 24 to 25 years of paying loans from infrastructure costs, before the county sees a single tax dollar from Heartland for the project. Or, Jefferson County taxpayers could end up having to foot the bill through another debt levy.

This does not even account for upkeep costs, or extra costs of wear and tear on other county and city roads. Either way, with only eight jobs created, and likely 30 lost as Overland Sheepskin is forced to move, where is the economic benefit to all residents of Jefferson County?

There are many other locations in Southeast Iowa the company can locate, without depriving farmers of the benefits of access to additional grain elevator locations.

Let’s get economic development that benefits all taxpayers and creates multiple jobs, and not just one business with only a few jobs.

There is little sense paving the way, so to speak, for a business that the county will see no real tax income from for 25 years. That is not economic development, that’s simply ending up holding the short end of the stick.

 

– Terry Smith, Fairfield

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