Friday, February 7, 2014

Snowjob in Bend

Snow is beautiful. A snowjob is not.
As snow returns to the High Desert after a season of relative dryness, it's time to note how the good citizens of Bend are getting a snowjob.

Or two.

This week, the sale closed on one of the smaller parcels for OSU-Pumice Pit. The larger, unstable pumice pit property won't close until next month, but close it will.

All this for about $13 million, plus another $8 million or so to prep the sites.

Of course, these millions fly in the face of the spirit in which Oregon State University was first created in Covallis.

OSU is one of 73 land-grant universities in the nation that were created to meet the needs of the Industrial Revolution. The Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890 paved the way for the spread of higher education across the land when the federal government gave land to the states to create these schools to further knowledge of agriculture, engineering and science.

In 2014, the spirit of the times is this: Take from the many to give to the few. A handful of property owners, who couldn't sell this land to anyone else, will reap millions at taxpayers' expense as a result of these flawed deals.

This spirit expanded this week when the city council okayed an "enterprise zone" for Deschutes Brewery, which means that the tremendously successful craft-brewery won't have to pay taxes for five years.

Yes, Deschutes Brewery is planning a $46 million expansion, which it needs to make even more money.

So, typical of large companies these days, the brewery demanded a huge tax break in exchange for creating 15 jobs that pay, with benefits included, $55,000 a year. As we know from previous experiences, these jobs rarely, if ever, materialize.

Plus, Oregon has one of the lowest beer taxes in the nation at 8 cents per gallon. The national median is 20 cents per gallon. Washington, which has its fair share of successful breweries, has a tax of 76 cents per gallon. Clearly, a high beer tax hasn't stifled the beer industry at all in Washington.

It seems counter-intuitive to give more money to the well-off when there are so many in need.

I wonder if all the other micro-breweries in Bend will demand a similar tax break from the city.

Why not?

Well, they won't get another sweetheart deal because they don't have enough money to buy that deal.

I also wonder if the city will be so generous when marijuana becomes legal and a local pot grower becomes so successful he wants to "grow" the business even more.

Sadly, the brewery tax giveaway means that the property tax burden will shift even more onto homeowners.

Meanwhile, the city wants more money from taxpayers to pay retirement benefits for police and firefighters.

If it didn't give such a tax break to Deschutes Brewery, the city might have had enough money for these benefits.

The snow is still falling here, as are the snowjobs.

1 comment:

  1. Surprised you haven't written about the mirror pond April dam patch debacle (spend a little bit, appear like a nice guy and then drop the mess on the City's plate) ... which of course gets dumped on the Bend tax payers..