From the Desk of
County Commissioner Kirby Delauter
(9/2012) Recently you may have heard about a new project being developed in Frederick County called the Jefferson Tech Park. This project will bring 7000 jobs to this county over the course of its development, probably around a 20 year build out. This is 7000 permanent jobs not to mention the residual jobs such as
construction and retail that will tag along as well.
The developer has been patiently waiting for over seven years to move this project forward. The previous Commissioners used infrastructure as a means of denial for the project. There is a bridge that the developer must build to access the property. The bridge will go across route 340, a State highway. The State has no issue with the bridge being built, but they did not
want to maintain the bridge. The County at that time also did not want to maintain the bridge. So, with no bridge agreement the project sat in limbo while the developer filed a major lawsuit against the County.
Enter this Board of County Commissioners elected in 2010. If my memory is correct, this Board has settled around 15 lawsuits that were in place prior to our arrival. Settled all without going to court or spending much needed taxpayer dollars. This Board also settled this suit without going to court.
We did so by treating people fairly and equitably. That is all this developer ever wanted. We started by contacting the State Highway Department and asking them their opinion on the bridge maintenance. The State, after months of negotiations offered that they would like the County to take over some State roads that would be better suited for County maintenance since they
are now secondary roads that were once primary State roads. A lot of these roads to say the least, were in dire need of repairs. We had our Engineering staff do an analysis and we made the State an offer. We would take certain roads ( the best of the bunch) and we would not request that they take the maintenance of the new bridge to the Jefferson Tech Park. The County would take this maintenance.
The reasoning for this is simple; the roads we took from the State were in pretty good shape not needing much if any repair at this time. The new bridge will not need any maintenance for at least 20 years. We were asked how the County could afford to maintain this bridge. It's really quite simple, with the new property taxes and income taxes generated from the 7000 new
jobs and the commercial and residential development there will be more than enough tax money flowing into the Treasury of Frederick County.
If future Boards use some fiscal sense and don't go on a hiring spree as they did from 2000 - 2010 when the County Government grew by 80% while during the same time the County population grew by 20% there will be plenty of money to maintain this infrastructure. That however is the tricky part, when times are good, Aunts, Uncles, brothers , sisters , in laws, all seem to
find their way to the County payroll. This agreement set the tone for this project to get out of the courts and into the building mode where hopefully some privates sector tax paying jobs will be created.
Since we're in the building mode let me explain how this project will get built. There is a mechanism called a TIF or Tax Increment Funding. This, with County approval allows the developer to sell bonds on the open market to fund their project. This entire project, including the bridge will be funded this way. There will be no taxpayer funds involved and the taxpayer is in
no way, shape or form on the hook or liable for any payback of these
bonds. These bonds do not go against the County's bond ratings either. The only thing this Board did was "Enable" this developer to move forward and create jobs. That in my opinion is what government should do; it should "Enable" the private sector to succeed, not stand in the way using politics to advance their hidden agendas. The old mantra of "If developers win, you
lose" doesn't seem to be playing very well these days. If government simply
"enables" the private sector to create jobs, the recipe is very simple. When risk outweighs reward stagnation occurs. The government simply has to get out of the way, let the private sector thrive and the economics of supply and demand will take care of the rest. Good luck to the Jefferson Tech Park.
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