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Economic Development (with capital letters) is more than just “jobs, jobs, jobs.” That’s what infuriates me about this JOBZ zone crap, because it usually just shifts companies around to whatever locality is chump enough to give them free ride on property taxes and income taxes, meanwhile driving up infrastructure costs that are not supported by the entity that causes it, GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR, if I ruled the world, the corporations would pay their own freight. JOBZ, TIF, tax “abatement,” everywhere we turn, it’s corporate welfare at our expense.


Then you’ve got this Mesaba coal gasification project, getting every “incentive” from the government trough that you can think of, and some that only Tom Micheletti could have thought of — I’ve got to hand it to him, he’s VERY creative, but there’s no excuse. They’ve gotten money from the state’s Renewable Development Fund ($10 million over 5 years), the IRRRB or IRRA or whatever it’s called now has paid in millions too, and the DOE with $36 million plus the $800+ million in federally guaranteed loans, we’re paying for that. To top that off, they went to the Counties, Itasca and St. Louis, so they’re covered wherever it goes, and got another $50 million for infrastructure from each. Say WHAT? How can these counties afford that?

They can’t. They’ve figured that out. This money has to come from somewhere.

An article in the Grand Rapids Herald-Review shows that Itasca County is listening. They’re under fire from citizens who’ve just received their tax bills, constituents who are staggering under the increase and are outraged. The county has taken an objective look at the income and outgo and they know who is paying their fair share — they know that utilties tax rates have been cut. Is that fair? Here’s a part of the article:

Frustration vented at county Truth-in-Taxation

That situation has become a reality in Itasca County, said McLynn, when utility companies, such as Minnesota Power, which operates Clay Boswell in Cohasset were given property tax relief a few years ago. Those missing revenues are now being covered by homeowners.

Information distributed by the county auditor indicated that over the past three years, utility taxes have dropped significantly.

Public utilities accounted for 21 percent of the county property tax base in 2002 while in 2005, that percentage is projected to be 13.7 percent. During the same period of time, homestead property taxes have risen from 30 percent of the property tax base in 2002 to a projected 35 percent in 2005.

A county that’s already hurting financially cannot afford that kind of hit. In Goodhue County, our utility personal property tax revenues from the Prairie Island plant were cut by more than half, from $23 million to $10 million. Download file THAT HURTS!

Itasca County knows that the bill will fall due, that all these perks of corporate welfare aren’t free, they are paid for by the county taxpayers. Can they afford to support projects like this? Can they afford to support projects like this without getting their fair share from the power plant? Let’s ask them!

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