Watchdog Report on Taxpayer Give-away, Incentives, and Crony Capitalism

Watchdog Report on Taxpayer Give-away, Incentives, and Crony Capitalism

At the last two Craven County Board of Commissioners’ meetings, the Board has given away our tax dollars to two private companies, Moen and BSH.

The gift to BSH was in the form of a “first right of refusal” for property that BSH might choose to expand on at some time in the future.  About five years ago, BSH paid $150,000 for a similar first right of refusal.  Then last month, they got another 5 years for “$10 and other good and valuable consideration.” It apparently was literally $10.  That would be typical when such language is used.  Really, it’s just the hope that BSH will decide to take action.  No one has said otherwise.  Why was this arrangement worth $150,000 for one five year period, and only $10 for a second five year period???

I thought that was bad enough, but they topped that last Monday, December 1, 2014, when the Craven County Board of Commissioners agreed to give Moen $650,000 in cash, and $172,000 in discounted value of the land they plan to purchase from the county.  The cash will take a huge chunk of the money taxpayers received back by the county’s withdrawal from North Carolina’s Eastern Region (NCER) that Mark Griffin and Representative Michael Speciale worked so hard for us to get.This was all done through a “Project Global.”  (Sound familiar?)  Are the Commissioners hoping to get grants from the UN or feds with that name?In return for the Commissioner’s largess with our taxpayer money, Moen will expand its operations in the Craven County Industrial  Park,  “creat 75 new jobs.”  Unfortunately, when Jason Jones, Commissioner from District 2, asked how many of those jobs will be filled by current employees of Moen in Kinston following their jobs to Craven County, he got no answer.  So, we really don’t know what Craven County is getting in return except, hopefully, improvements to the land in the industrial park.  So if Moen goes bankrupt after getting a county grant, as did the Yacht company, at least the land might be improved.

It was obvious that the Board had reached it’s decision before the so called “Public Hearing” on “Project Global,” and nothing I could say changed things.

These two actions by the Board are classic cases of crony-capitalism.  The government has chosen to get cozy with two businesses to the detriment of any business that is in competition with them for land on which to build their businesses in Craven County.

Incentives are never fair, and are an improper use of taxpayer money.  Incentives are the exact reverse of a free market economy.  All business does not operate on an equal basis.  The government chooses to take taxpayers’ money and assets and use them to benefit one or two businesses to the detriment of all other businesses.

I’m sorry Craven County owns an Industrial Park.  In a free market, such an asset would be privately owned.  However, since the county  does own an industrial park, and since the county has taxpayer funds which Mark Griffin and Michael Speciale managed to free up from the clutches of NCER that can be used for economic development only, why not use those funds to bring properties in the industrial park into salable condition, and offer them for sale to any company that wants to bid on them?  Why make special arrangements with two companies and ignore the possibility that anyone else might want the ground?

That approach would not be likely to chase Moen or BSH away, and would be a much more straight forward and fair way to approach the opportunity for economic development.

Respectfully Submitted,

 

Hal James
Chairman
CCTA Watchdog Committee
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