Project X: socialize the risk, privatize the profit

Source: Leslee Kulba, Tribune Papers, May 20, 2013

The Buncombe County Commissioners held a speedy public hearing on Project X Tuesday. To rehash, the commissioners were soliciting public approval for the gifting of taxpayer dollars to an unnamed company. The commissioners and county staff told the public they could not divulge the name of the company, because the company told them not to; and they didn’t want to see all the jobs and prosperity the business would bring to Buncombe County walk out the door….To recap, Project X will “manufacture components for customers in a particular market that will have long-term worldwide impacts.” The county will pay Project X $2.68 million in equal cash installments over a ten year period. The county will also acquire land for two facilities and prepare the sites for construction. The costs of improvement are estimated to run around $15.7 million, and the taxpayers will pay for them in debt service for limited obligation bonds. LOB’s are one of several tools now available to allow local governments to issue debt without taxpayer approval. In return, Project X “may,” through construction and equipment purchases, increase the tax value of the property by $126 million. And, if everything goes according to plans, it will create 52 new Buncombe County jobs while retaining all its current fulltime Buncombe County employees….