Wednesday, April 19, 2017

St. Johns County Commission Approves Secret $3 Million "Incentive": ENOUGH OF THIS "SECRET SQUIRREL" STUFF

All five County Commissioners, all Republican, voting Corporate Welfare, in secret. Despicable! 

Newly-filed County Commission candidate Tom Reynolds skewers award of $3 million to unnamed company as "incentive" to locate here.  No "incentives" are desired or required in the highest per capita income county in Florida.  County Commissioners must stop "selling our wares" like Babbittlike boosters in some other dysfunctional Third World kleptocracy.

In the words our louche local lapdog lawman (in an FBI-taped conversation that began on on June 11, 2008 at 9:35): Enough of this secret squirrel shit." (St. Johns County Sheriff DAVID SHOAR, on FBI surveillance tape talking to the corrupt developer lawyer GEORGE MORRIS McCLURE (now deceased) after FBI bribery arrest of County Commissioner THOMAS G. MANUEL.

St. Johns County Administrator MICHAEL WANCHICK stands behind Sheriff DAVID SHOAR

Posted April 19, 2017 12:02 am - Updated April 19, 2017 05:42 am
St. Johns County takes next steps toward $3M incentives deal with unnamed company

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St. Johns County commissioners on Tuesday voted unanimously in favor of moving forward with an economic incentives package worth nearly $3 million to reel in a company whose name and other particulars are yet to be disclosed.

The applicant, referred to in county documents as “Project Boilermaker,” is reviewing potential sites to construct a 210,000-square-foot building to serve as its corporate headquarters. The company, which is also considering a location in another state that has not been identified, has requested confidentiality throughout the due diligence process.

Documents provided by the county do not include any information on who is behind the application for Project Boilermaker, where the company is currently based, how long it’s been in business, or what products would be made at the facility.

Melissa Glasgow, director of the county’s Economic Development Agency, told commissioners she was still not allowed to disclose the company’s name. She said if commissioners agreed to proceed with the proposed plan, and the company ultimately chooses to take its business to St. Johns County, all pertinent information would be made public when the item comes back to the board for final consideration.

Commissioner Jeb Smith asked whether the company would be competing with any existing business in the county to which Glasgow replied: “Not that I’m aware of.”

The company is proposing to hire more than 300 new employees by Dec. 31, 2030, paying an average wage of $79,442. No information was provided on how many employees would be making above or below that figure, never mind to what degree.

Glasgow said Project Boilermaker is eligible for consideration of expedited permitting and an economic development grant of up to 100 percent of fees paid to the county (impact fees and water/sewer connection fees) plus four years of ad valorem taxes (general county portion) on capital improvements and tangible personal property valued at $86 million. The estimated value of the proposed grant is $2,758,310.

The company also applied for a State of Florida Qualified Target Industry (QTI) tax refund of $1,015,000 for job creation encompassing roughly half of the 300 or more new employees. Project Boilermaker requested the county provide the required local match of 20 percent, which is estimated to be $203,000.

If St. Johns County is selected, Project Boilermaker is expected to construct and occupy a building by March 31, 2020. The total incentives package, at an estimated $2,961,310, would be paid out over an eight-year period anticipated to begin in fiscal year 2022.

Glasgow said no funds would be expended until performance measures are met.

Despite the payouts, county officials say they are still expecting a roughly $7 million boost to the General Fund over a 20-year period.

St. Augustine Beach resident Tom Reynolds said during public comment he did not want the county, which he referred to as “the Rolls-Royce of the east coast,” engaging in “corporate welfare.”

However, he said he was more troubled by the confidentiality aspect of the proposed deal than the picking of winners and losers.

“I don’t like secret government,” Reynolds said.

Commissioner Jay Morris called for “the right perspective” on the situation.

He said the incentives would more than pay for themselves through ad valorem taxes alone, at least over time.

“This is one heck of a deal for St. Johns County,” Morris said.

According to documents on the St. Johns County Supervisor of Elections website, Reynolds on Monday filed to run as a Democrat for Morris’ District 4 seat in the 2018 election cycle. Morris, a Republican who has served on the board since November 2010, has repeatedly said his current term will be his last. District 4 encompasses Ponte Vedra Beach.

The county has been outward in its support for confidentiality to negotiate economic incentives agreements with target businesses and industries. Its Legislative Action Plan has included support in recent years for expanding the existing exemptions from the state’s Sunshine Laws — a series of laws meant to guarantee public access to the public records — in order to spur economic development.


Nigel Owens
Hmm............we could "drain the swamp" or just put fertilizer on it.

All these years I thought "the swamp was in Gainesville" turns out it's really in St. Johns county. A 3 million dollar incentive package to a nameless entitiy, oh now that's a fine example of government transparency.

Suzanne GAMBLE
Costco maybe???

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