|Suspended Reality: When A Gift Is Called An Incentive
Council Votes 6-2 Providing Company A $300,000 Centerra Rent Rebate
Loveland - May 22, 2009
Loveland’s City Council approved a $442,000 subsidy for McWhinney last
Tuesday by giving their tenants a cash rebate for locating in Centerra but not
While the money will be paid to Agrium Advanced Technologies and its fellow
subsidiary of Agrium Inc., Crop Production Services (CPS), it is being paid only
if the companies sign a 12-year lease with McWhinney’s Centerra development.
According to Mike Masciola, Vice President of the Northern Colorado
Economic Development Council (NCEDC), both companies already decided to
move to Loveland last April. Apparently, the subsidy was to pick McWhinney
over other locations in or around Loveland as the winners.
CPS is a chemical, fertilizer and seed sales distribution company that maintains
over 50 locations around the country. Headquartered in Illinois, many of the 250
jobs moving 12 miles from Greeley to east Loveland are sales jobs. Chemical
fertilizer sales jobs normally rely on commissions to meet the expected average
payroll of $60,000 the NCEDC has been touting.
Councilmen Cecil Gutierrez and Kent Solt spoke in opposition of the
$300,000 cash subsidy for CPS but voted in favor of the smaller subsidy for
Agrium Advanced Technologies of $142,000. Each company will receive
$2,000 per employee still in Loveland after 1 year if they choose McWhinney. If
the company leases a non-McWhinney owned commercial property in or around
Loveland, the taxpayer subsidy will not apply.
Gutierrez pointed to the fact that incentive money is being used to bring not new
jobs to Loveland but instead existing jobs where people from Loveland cannot
apply. Solt stated he was struggling with seeing the cash payment as an incentive
instead just a gift of public funds since the decision to move to Loveland was
already may over a month ago.
Councilman Glenn Rousey was absent from the meeting but the remaining six
councilors; Mayor Gene Pielin, David Clark, Walt Skowron, Carol
Johnson, Larry Heckel and Daryl Klassen all supported the subsidy with few
or no questions to the developer or business. This is common as many of the six
appear to coordinate their votes in advance of meetings by negotiating any
concerns with the applicant directly through ex-parte communication.
The continuing subsidies for McWhinney by the majority of Loveland’s City
Council is likely to be an issue in the city’s upcoming election in November.
LovelandPolitics has learned that a number of councilors called McWhinney
before the vote to take money away from the I-25 and U.S. 34 interchange
improvements (May 5, 2009) to say they were afraid a yes vote would hurt their
chances at re-election. This is why McWhinney pulled the item and now has
come back to the council with another subsidy for the same project that doesn’t
require defunding an important transportation improvement.
Appearing like a bought politician, Mayor Pielin chose the time following the 6-
2 vote in favor of the Centerra rent rebate for CPS to apologize to Chad
McWhinney and others assembled at the meeting to support the request. Pielin
described himself and others as "conservatives" when dealing with taxpayer
dollars and appeared concerned that McWhinney might be angry by the questions
asked by councilors Gutierrez and Solt.
Pielin described the city as still "pro-business" despite the questions asked by two
of his colleagues who voted no. What Pielin failed to understand is the only
businesses to favor the City of Loveland's rent rebates for Centerra are
McWhinney and the tenant receiving the rebate. Most companies are cautious
about investing in a community where one developer appears to have extra-
ordinary access and control of city hall.
Editor's note "Government picking the winners and losers in the private sector
by using tax dollars is hardly a pro-business or 'conservative' ideal."
decided on Loveland last
Mike Masciola, Vice president,
Northern Colorado Economic Development Council
|Chad McWhinney (above) watches Loveland's
May 19, 2009 council meeting intensely along
with McWhinney staff member and NCEDC
board member Rocky Scott (below-right).
|Councilman Cecil Gutierrez (above)
stood against the political pressure
along with his colleague Councilman
Kent Solt by asking some tough
questions before voting no to funding a
Centerra Rent Rebate of $300,000 to
Mayor Pielin (below) apologized to
McWhinney and their tenants in public
for the questions his colleagues asked.
|Councilman Heckel appeared lost
through much of the meeting and voted
in favor of the rent rebates.
|Sometimes calling themselves the "magnificent"
McWhinney Seven, pictured below and left are the
Loveland City Council members who voted for the
$300,000 gift of public funds for McWhinney's tenant.
(not pictured from the "McWhinney seven" is Councilman Glenn
Rousey who was absent from the meeting May 19, 2009)
|McWhinney's Sure Votes On Loveland's City Council
|Loveland Mayor Gene Pielin
|Pictured above from left to right; Councilors, David Clark, Walt Skowron, Larry Heckel, Carol Johnson and Daryl Klassen