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Incentives for CHS were Christmas gift

Was the CHS subsidy, a wise move? In the recent election, residents of Stutsman County indicated a desire to curb never-ending tax increases. Not unlike the president bypassing Congress and U.S. citizens with his pen, did you know that Stutsman C...

Was the CHS subsidy, a wise move? In the recent election, residents of Stutsman County indicated a desire to curb never-ending tax increases. Not unlike the president bypassing Congress and U.S. citizens with his pen, did you know that Stutsman County made one of the highest per-job corporate tax giveaways in American history by allowing CHS to pay $3 million on a $9.7 million "tax bill," based on the substantially reduced $900 million valuation of the $3 billion proposed fertilizer plant project?

From 1994 through 2012, the average home in Jamestown, N.D., increased in value 210 percent and taxes increased 180 percent. There is no reason to believe that same pattern won't continue through 2039.

CHS' value will likely increase just as home values. Stutsman County agreed CHS "taxes" will remain constant at $3 million. CHS taxes were to be $3.23 million, but the Jamestown and Stutsman Development Corp. pledged yet another corporate giveaway, kicking in another quarter million dollars per year for 20 years, creating an "entitlement" in CHS through JSDC's incentive programs.

On its face, a $9.7 million tax bill satisfied by a $3 million payment means the county is giving away $6.7 million per year from 2018 to 2038 for a total giveaway of $134 million. Applying the same historical rate of growth to the value of the plant as to our homes, the CHS value would increase from $900 million to $1.8 billion-plus and annual taxes would increase to more than $17 million. In reality, Stutsman County gave away more than $215 million in tax revenue on this project alone. For what?

Jamestown is paying $1.25 million for each of the 177 jobs created, one of the highest costs per job created giveaways in American history. Who bears this? Current taxpayers, that's who.

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Stutsman County's total taxable property value is $80 million, while CHS has a current value of $13.6 billion. CHS's 2013 net income was $961 million, a year which CHS calls a challenging year. Jamestown and Stutsman County are broke, while CHS has $1.8 billion cash on hand. Why did Jamestown give CHS $215 million? For 177 jobs?

Jamestown may truly be the "Buffaloed" city, buffaloed by JSDC, the City Council and the County Commission. Jamestown is the home of this more than $215 million Spiritwood-area corporate tax welfare giveaway. How many bus shelters or library expansions would this giveaway have paid for, how many red kettles could have been filled? The corporate giants will enjoy a very Merry Christmas thanks to JSDC, the City Council and the County Commission.

Editor's note: Schmitt is a resident of Jamestown, N.D.

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