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Bass Pro Shops: Was County Right to Invest $6.25 Million?

The Hillsborough County Commission has agreed to set aside $6.25 million to repay developers for road construction projects that will ultimately serve customers of Bass Pro’s new location. We’d like to get your thoughts on the issue.

Hillsborough County Commission Chairman Ken Hagan says the math is simple.

The county pays out up to $6.5 million to help a developer build roads that will benefit not only Bass Pro Shops, but also a number of other businesses. In return, it will get nearly $3 million in combined property and sales taxes collected on the Brandon area parcel each year. The land only generates about $800 a year in property tax revenues now.

Based on those figures, the taxpayers will get their money back in only a few years while continuing to see a large increase in property and sales taxes thanks to the development.

Commissioner Kevin Beckner opposed using county dollars to help pay for the road project.

He said he fears the county is turning into a “department of corporate entitlements.”

“I just have a real issue of using taxpayer dollars for a multi-billion dollar corporation to come into our community and use those dollars to grow their business,” Beckner said during the board’s Feb. 20 meeting.

Despite Beckner’s opposition and a stream of residents who spoke against using tax dollars to fund road projects for a development, Hagan’s math lesson prevailed Wednesday.

Board members voted 6-1 in favor of giving the project’s developers the money. (See this related story for more details.)

Do you agree with Commissioner Hagan that it makes good sense for the county to invest in projects that will provide it a return on investment? Or do you agree with Commissioner Beckner that it’s a corporate entitlement? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

William Walters February 21, 2013 at 12:56 AM
Good Move!!!! Bring in more businesses, that translates into more jobs! Commissioner Beckner is a narrow minded fool!
Mardie February 21, 2013 at 03:12 AM
It is the way the media is presenting this that is the problem. Nothing is being given to Bass Pro. The money is going to infrastructure that will sustain the anticipated growth of that area. For once it will be in place prior to the heavy need and may even be adequate for several years. If you want to complain about helping private business, complains about sports stadiums.
David L Laidig February 21, 2013 at 04:17 AM
Hagan is another Republican who seems to speak out of both sides of his mouth. When the County is obligated to provide infrastructure for a company that is paying poverty wages, Mr Hagan's math lesson falls short of reality. This is another 'deal" where we the taxpayers will be supporting another companies' employees with County services. Sound familiar? Like Walmart? Great Job Republicans!!!!
Laura Pearman February 21, 2013 at 12:52 PM
With so many small businesses just barely holding on, I believe 6+ million could be better spent on companies that may not make it this year. Bass Pro Shops is well funded and doesn't need the funding. They will expand with or without this corporate welfare. Also, the jobs it will create will be min. wage level. I hear alot of noise about STEM jobs but the gov. is doing the opposite with this move.
Greg McAuley February 21, 2013 at 02:18 PM
I don't understand the hateful, "anti" comments. Let's see if I get it...so the County is going to invest $6.5 million on infrastructure to facilitate opening a large, private business from which it will "get nearly $3 million in combined property and sales taxes" PER YEAR. I'd say that's a pretty good deal for Hillsborough County...and by extension, its tax payers. How could it possible be a bad deal? It's infrastructure, folks. It's not like the County is "giving" the money to Bass Pro. smh
George Carlson February 21, 2013 at 02:19 PM
I agree with Beckner. This Comission is being Bribed by Developers using Tax Payers Money. The National Economy will Collapse again by mid Summer if not before then. The Numbers and the Greed are all pointing in the same direction that caused the Recession. At the present this Recession is having a upward spike, or as we say " the eye of the storm " Wall Street is Way Oversold ( roughly by 40 to 50 percent ) and the Fed has introduced Worthless Cash into the Markets and now they are starting to regret that. The Collapse that is coming will be much greater than the first and this Commision is Giving Money away to those who do Not need it. Bass Pro Will Fail by years end
George Carlson February 21, 2013 at 02:41 PM
It is Hagan that is the Fool and using False numbers to do the Math. Now is Not the time to accept developers Bribes. The Tax Money that will be stolen from local residents would be Much better spent on building up reserves that this county Will Need by this years end and Not on another Strip Mall
Elizabeth Belcher February 21, 2013 at 04:47 PM
The 6.25 million dollar "investment in infrastructure" is really nothing more than a private loop within the development itself. If goes nowhere and does nothing other than provide access to the retail outlets. Yes, the money is not going directly to Bass Pro, the fact is even more unacceptable and digusting. It is going to multi-millionaire developers who do not even live in Florida. There is a letter in the county's own files from Mellon Bank that states two of the developers could lose 14m and not have a problem with finances. And let's add the little additional help given to Hagan and Higginbotham for their relection campaigns from David Verado. $500 each in their primary and then $500 in the general election. Total of $1,000 each. Victor Crist was cheap, he only received $500.
RD February 21, 2013 at 06:32 PM
I feel sorry for the small businesses in the area. Clearly, Bass Pro is going to kill them with kindness. First they bring lawsuits against companies that sell similar items, then they apologize to get our tax money. If the commissioners cared about the area, they would have spent that money on infastructure to support their constituents, not a big-box company that's going to put them out of business. Since when is any job a good job when it's going to kill so much small business in the area. I hope people go to Bass Pro for the fun but spend their money locally.
MG Watson February 21, 2013 at 08:18 PM
WOW. Amazing how small minded people can be. I am an avid hunter and do this year round. I found myself driving to Orlando last weekend to get the things I needed because our local small shops no longer carry the supplies, because deer season is over. No matter what jobs they create, they are jobs that people need and will apply for. Would you rather the people that are going to work there be on food stanps and us suuport them, or work there and pay taxes back into the system? People always complain about comapnies paying minimum wage, but never complain when they get service from a McDonalds employee. It takes all walks of life to make the world go round. From a CEO to cashier. Greg said it best. We spend 6 million and get that back from Bass Pro in 2 years...not to mention they keep paying taxes after we have gotten that money back.
George Carlson February 22, 2013 at 03:16 PM
It is the Small mind that accepts Overpopulation and Overconstruction at all costs. They would like nothing more than to fill every vacant spot on planet Earth with asphalt and Cement which only creates Very Temporary jobs at best but makes the Developer much Richer. The costs to us are our Air, Water, Green space and ulimately our health and now our Wallet
Gregory Hofschneider February 28, 2013 at 01:08 AM
Mr. Hagan, If it were that good of a location and Bass was willing to invest there, why would 6 million dollars be a deal breaker for them? Just wondering?
Zigsauered March 23, 2013 at 12:16 AM
Don't even leave the porch. You can order and they will come to you. http://www.basspro.com/
Joni Colver April 09, 2013 at 07:28 PM
I believe it is corporate entitlement. Whatever happened to businesses and developers paying impact fees? I am also strongly opposed to tax-funded sports stadiums. Why are taxpayers paying for bills that rightfully should and easily could be paid by the people who profit the most, the investors/businesses/developers?

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