As a resident of Cooke County I am writing to oppose granting a tax abatement for the proposed Wildcat Creek Wind Farm.
As a former economic development professional and having served as an official with responsibility for economic development policy and programs at the state and federal levels, I have had extensive experience in considering when a tax abatement is an appropriate tool to attract a significant economic development project.
Typically, a tax abatement is only considered appropriate when the scale of the capital investment and its residual taxable value post abatement, combined with attracting long-term high-skill/high-wage jobs to a community, is such that it justifies an abatement. An independent economic cost-benefit analysis commissioned by the taxing jurisdiction usually is a predicate for an informed decision.
An example of an appropriate use of a tax abatement was for retention and expansion of the Arlington General Motors Assembly plant. In 1991 an abatement by the city of Arlington and by Tarrant County led to the retention and expansion of the manufacturing plant, thousands of high-skill/high-wage manufacturing jobs and multiple rounds of capital investment in excess of a billion dollars over the subsequent decades.
Based on my current understanding of the scope of the project and absent independent economic cost-benefit analysis, I am highly skeptical that the benefits to the local economy outweigh foregone tax revenue to the county and other taxing jurisdictions. This project needs to be viable on its own merits without being subsidized by the citizens of Cooke County.
David Sampson, Gainesville
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