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Letter: Community needs to discuss job creation costs

To the Editor:

How much money should be spent in taxpayer dollars to create new jobs?

Our City Council recently approved a property tax abatement of $284,677 for Capital Safety. It was stated that 100 jobs were to be added. One problem is that the resolution the council approved called for 40 jobs at $13.50 an hour to be created in two years, not 100 jobs. (That’s a tax subsidy of over $7,000 per job.) The resolution passed by Goodhue County for an abatement of $190,566 did call for 100 jobs to be created over five years though: 75 jobs at $12.50 an hour and 25 jobs at $26 an hour.

What was most troubling though was the lack of any discussion by the council on the merits of the abatement. I’m not passing judgment on whether the abatement should have been approved. To put this issue into context, besides receiving tax abatements of $475,243, Capital Safety will also receive a loan from the state for $500,000, $250,000 of which will be forgiven. The company also is pursuing from the state a job creation award of up to $420,000, and a capital investment rebate of up to $330,000. All told, Capital Safety could receive over a million dollars in taxpayer subsidies.

The city is in the process of negotiating new labor contracts, it will soon embark on building a new fire station, and is facing maybe the largest amount of money for capital improvement projects the city has ever considered. Now, other taxpayers will have to pick up the tab for the abatement.

Have we become so fearful of the potential of a company leaving town that we won’t have an open, frank discussion about issues such as this?

Kent Laugen

Red Wing