Grain elevator project not ‘urban renewal’
To the editor:
As a Jefferson County property owner and taxpayer, I am writing today to voice my concerns about the county government's involvement, particularly in the form of Tax Increment Financing, in the proposed Heartland grain elevator project. I am extremely concerned about a number of issues and do not feel there has been enough disclosure on the part of Heartland Co-op as to the scope and true cost of this project to our community. While I understand there are benefits to some of the area farmers, those benefits need to be measured by their cost to the community at large (including the cost to area farmers).
Some of my concerns with this project are:
A) the abuse of TIF, which was designed to channel funding to distressed and underdeveloped areas of a jurisdiction, particularly areas suffering from urban blight (hence the casting of this project as an "urban renewal" project, which it is nothing of the sort);
B) the cost to taxpayers in terms of the infrastructure maintenance and accelerated road damage caused by the estimated (by a Heartland representative) 14,000-19,000 semi-trucks visiting the facility annually;
C) environmental costs to the citizens of Fairfield and the area around the facility caused by dust, noise, and pollution from both the facility itself and the increased truck and rail traffic (see: http://www.epa.gov/ttnchie1/ap42/ch09/final/c9s0909-1.pdf);
D) the very real potential for depressed property values directly around the facility as well as in the city, particularly the eastern portion of the city;
E) the impact upon the existing grain elevator in Fairfield, Reiff Grain, which has operated since 1976, employs 20 people, and has $6 million in annual revenues;
F) the impact upon Overland Sheepskin, which has been at its current location since 1995 and employs 30 people at the Fairfield location.
These are just a few of the reasons this project should be of great concern to the taxpayers of Jefferson County.
– Lauryn Shapter, Fairfield