Friday, January 26, 2018

Weatherby: Open Letter to Governor Mead

Dear Governor Mead,

Congratulations on attracting Weatherby to Wyoming, and on helping create 70 jobs.

Forgive me if I don't cork up the champaign just yet, but I cannot get past the $12.5 million grant that the company got.
It raises a few questions, as I am sure you understand. I was going to write a blog article about the positive outlook for the Wyoming economy for 2018, but the questions regarding your Weatherby deal got in the way. I will publish that article on Monday; here are my questions.

1. Who is putting up the $12.5 million that Weatherby is getting in the form of an economic development grant? I don't think I need to ask, but I thought I would give you the chance to explain in detail.

2. The grant is going to pay for an industrial facility in Sheridan. What other funding options were available? Why not?

3. The grant provides something like $178,000 in funding, per new job created. That is only 40 percent of what the Obama administration doled out per new job through its "Stimulus Bill" back in the day, but it is still a decent amount of money. Can I, too, get a $178,000 grant if I add an employee to my small business? What about my friend who runs a landscaping business? Can he, too, get $178,000 if he hires a new employee? How about Barnes and Noble here in Cheyenne?

4. What cost-benefit analysis motivated the decision to give Weatherby the grant? Or, asking the same question from another angle: is this the absolutely best way to spend $12.5 million to facilitate job creation in Wyoming?

5. We the taxpayers are apparently supposed to get our money back over a 20-year period, during which Weatherby will pay a lease for their grant-funded facility in Sheridan. What happens if Weatherby, a couple of years from now, decides to move their production to another state? Will they have to repay the balance of the $12.5 million?

6. Has Weatherby factored in potential tax increases, such as to pay for the $60 million you need for your ENDOW project? What about the industrial property tax, which the Revenue Committee wants to increase by an estimated 17 percent? Even if they lease the building, it is reasonable to expect that the tax hike will affect them through the lease contract.

7. If the legislature passes HB51 on to you, and you sign it into law, will Weatherby have to start reporting its gross receipts, and eventually pay the gross receipts tax, like everybody else? How much will this tax increase their production costs here in Wyoming?

Thank you for taking time to answer these questions.

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