Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Raising Eyebrows

We've generally viewed governmental subsidies of corporations along with governmental bail-outs and governmental inducements granted to private business interests with a skeptical eye.

So the recent headline in the Watauga Democrat, "County and Tweetsie may go into special partnership," got our undivided attention.

What we see there is that "the county would buy land to support the theme park in exchange for a long-term commitment to keep the business operating" (a projected pay-out of $3.15 million of county money) and "the county would also provide marketing money over the next six years" ($150,000).

The $3.15 million might be viewed as a legitimate investment with potential for eventual earnings (though the land deal is complicated by token rental charges of one buck a year to Tweetsie for six years, to be followed by rental "at market prices" until Tweetsie can maybe buy the property, which might amount to a few too many ifs, ands, and buts). The $150,000 for marketing would be an outright "grant" to the Tweetsie owners.

The County Commission has scheduled a public hearing on May 20 about this corporate welfare. Seems like many questions should be asked.

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