Letter to the editor: Money should be spent on projects that create jobsGreat River Energy and the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. will have a “merry Christmas” courtesy the residents of Jamestown, as every single man, woman and child in Jamestown will “give” $250 per person this Christmas for a rail loop only beneficial to GRE for a power plant that couldn’t and wouldn’t have been built anywhere else but in Spiritwood Energy Park.
By: Joseph M. Schmitt, Jamestown, The Jamestown Sun
Great River Energy and the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. will have a “merry Christmas” courtesy the residents of Jamestown, as every single man, woman and child in Jamestown will “give” $250 per person this Christmas for a rail loop only beneficial to GRE for a power plant that couldn’t and wouldn’t have been built anywhere else but in Spiritwood Energy Park.
In its second-quarter 2011 report, GRE reported $376,530,000 cash on hand and total current assets of $642,106,000. Compare GRE’s $377 million cash on hand to the $60 million value of all property in Stutsman County. GRE’s cash on hand is more than five times the value of all property in Stutsman County at a time when Jamestown and Stutsman County’s infrastructure continues to fall apart. GRE asks for and continues to receive “gifts” from JSDC, the city of Jamestown and Stutsman County. Consider the $300,000 handout for jobs it didn’t timely create, and probably hasn’t created to date, the bond approval, tax abatements, and on and on. Consider the negative impacts of the development, such as reported in the April 20, 2008, Jamestown Sun that the activity of developing the energy park would cause an impact of $3.5 million to the state and county roads in the area, not including the substantial damage that has and will continue to occur to local township roads.
It is very unlikely that GRE could have built its power plant in Minnesota, nor Wisconsin. Furthermore, it is my understanding that until a very recent special exception granted by the Minnesota Legislature, it is doubtful that GRE could have even sold the power in Minnesota nor transported it through Minnesota to Wisconsin. Through JSDC, Jamestown and Stutsman County residents are forced to continue to “subsidize” a project that in reality couldn’t have been stopped, which support “subsidizes” the electric rates for users in Wisconsin, or wherever the power goes, if it ever goes.
Instead of providing mega companies that couldn’t locate elsewhere with substantial but unnecessary benefits and giveaways, Jamestown and Stutsman County should spend money on companies that do need assistance, that would not otherwise come here, on projects that do create jobs, and that do offer a net benefit to the community by mitigating their negative impacts.
During this holiday season, when you are adding up your Christmas expenses, and wondering whether your basement will flood next spring because of failing sewers, keep the $250 in mind, and thank your JSDC representatives and local government officials for continued support of this corporate welfare.
Joseph M. Schmitt