Not too long ago, Eureka was assured by its City Staff and City Council that the continuation of the tax increase in Eureka was necessary to keep essential services functioning. While we brought up examples of “pet projects” the Council spent money on, the city continued to spin the argument back to public safety.
They made it clear that if Measure O and later Measure Q, weren’t around the city would have to cut police and fire positions. The Examiner found that pretty hard to swallow, so we kept going back to all the “discretionary” money spent in ways that benefited a few small companies and business owners, but that had very little benefit for the common citizen.
Well, the NCJ story from this week, regarding Eureka’s own corporate welfare, sheds some light on how your tax dollars are being spent:
In regards to the new facility for Lost Coast Brewery, Grant Scott-Goforth wrote, “The company’s new facility is built on a foundation of hard work, a lot of malt and hops, and a lot of public money: The city spent nearly $700,000 in site-specific improvements at the company’s new south Eureka site. It was a community investment, said city officials who approved the spending, but it came at a time when Eureka raised taxes to cover basic services, and when questions are being raised around the nation about the billions of dollars that small communities gift to large companies every year.”
Yup, $700,000 spent when the City could barely pay the bills without extra tax money. Of course, the city made clear that they thought the expansion would “pay for itself” in tax revenue. The NCJ report calls those rosy predictions into question.
What is clear from the article is that the city council, which included Linda Atkins, thought that spending your tax money on infrastructure improvements for one private business was a sound fiscal decision. Barbara Groom, owner of the Lost Coast Brewery, must be very thankful to Eureka. She must be overjoyed with getting to expand in such a wonderful area. In the Times-Standard, Groom wrote “With a national product it makes no sense to invest in Eureka. It’s located at the edge of the earth, transportation is difficult and expensive, unpolluted industrial land is nonexistent, utility infrastructure is poor, and the place isn’t getting better.”
Way to go Eureka City Council and Staff. It’s easy to see by these decisions how seriously you take your fiduciary responsibilities. Now…how long before you need another tax hike to avert bankruptcy? 5 years? 3 years?