Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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The County 5 Tonight: Buried in the consent agenda tax incentives to an anonymous company 


COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Buried in tonight's consent agenda, along with another $159,379 in unbudgeted expenditures which The County 5, "The 5", are expected to rubber stamp without a word of discussion, is the approval of a tax incentive to an anonymous company. Item 9 on the consent agenda reads, "Agreement – Project Breeze – Final Agreement."

In June of 2013, SC&H Group, acting on behalf of a project known as Project Breeze, sent a letter to Enterprise Florida asking for confidentiality for "all documents, records, reports, correspondence, conversations, applications, data and other sources of information concerning our business plans, interests, or intention to evaluate or locate in Florida as well as other trade secrets, identification, account, and registration numbers, and proprietary confidential business information."

Florida statutes allow for them to do this. The confidentiality agreement is valid for 12 months unless SC&H allow for the disclosure of the real identity of its client, who is requesting the confidentiality.

Initially, the proposed deal was a project worth $30,000,000, which was a proposed expansion of their existing business located in Columbia County. Now the expansion has been whittled down to $7.5 million.

Project Breeze, after negotiating for the construction clearances, came back and decided they wanted to split the project into phases. They wanted to do Phase I, but still get incentives based on the $30,000,000 up front.

The representatives of the County balked and agreed that only the incentives from Phase I would be acceptable.

On The 5's docket tonight is whether to grant Phase I economic incentives, which will be paid by the taxpayers of Columbia County, at a cost of $180,338 as jobs are created.

The Economic Development Advisory Board Attorney, Joel Foreman, told the Observer he is working to try and get the folks of Project Breeze to release the confidentiality requirement before The 5 meets to approve the tax incentive. He said, "I'm hoping I get it done."

If Mr. Foreman doesn't, The 5 will have to decide if they are willing to commit County taxpayer dollars to an anonymous company, which would make The 5 no different than the folks at Enterprise Florida.

The Columbia County 5 from left to right: Chairman Ronald Williams;
Commissioners Rusty DePratter; Bucky Nash; Stephen Bailey; Scarlet Frisina


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