Last week, the Huntsville City Council approved a $4 million budget line item to help a department store move from one city mall to another spot 1.5 miles away. Prior to the vote, City Councilman Will Culver was doing his best to gin up excitement about a “major department store” coming to town:
At its meeting Thursday, the Huntsville City Council is expected to consider a $4 million incentive package designed to help Bridge Street lure a two-story department store, 45,000 square feet of new retail space and a popular chain restaurant not currently in North Alabama.
City Councilman Will Culver said he is not at liberty to name the department store. It won't be a Macy's or Nordstrom — luxury chains on the wish list of many shoppers — but Culver said people will be excited when details are announced.
The city's proposed $4 million incentive package includes running utilities to the department store site, said Davis, as well as an underground storm culvert that will carry rainwater to a city-owned lake about a quarter-mile away in Cummings Research Park.
Mayor Tommy Battle's communications director, Kelly Schrimsher, said those incentives are in line with what the city would invest in any large retail expansion with sound financial projections.
Large retail expansion? This is an existing business in the city moving from one spot to another – and asking the city to pay for it. Gee… I just can't imagine why Councilman Culver was cagey with the name of this “major department store,” can you?
Bait and switch….. and the taxpayers foot the bill for a private business.
After all that hype before the vote, city leaders sounded pretty gloomy about the deal:
Kling says, “I think everyone would agree, it would have been a step backward for us if the Belk that was in Madison Square Mall, which was going to leave anyway, if they’d gone on out of town, we lose that revenue. We lose the sales tax. We lose the property tax.”
City leaders say keeping all that in town may be a small victory after all.
Wow. A private business threatened to leave the city if it didn't get a public handout. And the city rolled over with a $4 million blackmail payment.
Too bad Mitt Romney won't be in Huntsville before the election. He could visit the Toyota manufacturing facility (also the recipient of government largesse) and buy Ann a delightful trinket at Belk's.
Then he could try explaining to us yet again how the success of a business has nothing to do with infrastructure, schools, the USPS, and local fire & police departments that help keep the business, its customers, and employees safe.
It appears that when many of these business owners boast of “doing it all on my own” what they actually did was go to their local or state government and demand a hand out.
Socialize risk and privatize profits: it's the Bain Way.