Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 24, 2014

Public funds should serve public good

By Rick Archer | Jul 24, 2014

To the editor:

Thanks to The Fairfield Ledger and The Des Moines Register for great coverage on the recent decision of the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) to deny Heartland Co-op’s application for a $1.55 million tax credit to create just six new jobs at its Jefferson County grain terminal.

I strongly agree with the numerous people adding their comments online to The Des Moines Register July 18 front page article, “Incentives Only Part of Opposition to Fairfield Elevator”: Between infrastructure inadequacies, likely overall job losses, and lessened small town appeal from dust and noise issues, I don’t see how such a tax break would have been money well spent. And why should public funds be used to give tax incentives to a company that has already started to build — even in the face of considerable local opposition?

Our elected officials seem blind to the clear and predictable risks the Heartland Co-op project is imposing on the taxpayers of Jefferson County, including massive costs for road improvements. Already, the first 10 years of additional property taxes from Heartland Co-op has been committed to pay back a loan to pave Osage Boulevard financed by Tax Increment Financing.

With 10 years of incremental tax income from Heartland Co-op already spent, where will the money come from to pay for the extra wear and tear on county roads from the thousands of 80,000-pound grain trucks arriving from five surrounding counties? Where will the money come from to pave Nutmeg Avenue, if we are to avoid grain trucks from the north going through our city streets?

Any way you look at it, the Heartland Co-op project is likely to result in an economic loss, not gain for the community for the foreseeable future. Is this really the kind of “economic development’ we want to see in Jefferson County?

Economic development should be for the benefit of the whole community, and not require expenditures of taxpayer monies with little prospect of return on investment.

 

– Rick Archer, Fairfield

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