Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Pilot/Flying J Coming to Columbia County
Mostly Non-Living Wage Jobs to Cost $3,497,407

Incentives from the Feds, State, and Columbia County tax payers total 41% of Pilot's cost.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – The route of Pilot/Flying J landing in Ellisville began in 2007 with trucker/businessman Terry Dicks. It has ended in 2015 with Florida's infamous County 5 (County Commission) and the Dept. of Economic Opportunity (DEO), which are about to put the rubber stamp on a giveaway of federal, state, and county funds based on jacked-up job predictions of job creation, the overwhelming majority of which don't pay a living wage.

The infamous County 5 (County Commission), like a bunch of hound dogs on the scent, can smell the gas tax dollars rolling into the County coffers and have looked the other way from their previously agreed-upon average hourly wage of "no less than $9.25 hr." County Encouraging Low Paying Jobs, Offers $414,000 Bonanza for 32 of Them

The County 5
Applying for a Community Development Block Grant

Based on the figures in the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) application, the average hourly rate for hourly employees is not $9.25 per hour, but $8.74hr. (pg. 8 of the application)

There is also confusion concerning the number of jobs that must be created by Pilot in order for the County to be eligible for the grant.

The August 20, 2015, agreement between the County 5 and Pilot calls for a minimum creation of 30 full time jobs at $9.25hr.

The CDBG Application is being prepared by Arcadis Engineering for the County and must be approved by DEO. According to Arcadis, DEO is working hand-in-hand with them on the application.

During the second CDBG public hearing on October 1, 2015, the recently revealed grant application calls for the creation of 40 or 55 full time jobs. There is confusion in the application. The average hourly rate for hourly employees is clearly $8.74hr.; not the previously agreed upon $9.25hr.

In order to receive the CDBG (the grant) the maximum cost per FTE (full time equivalent) job cannot exceed $34,999. The application claims it meets the requirement and provides a job creation cost based on 40 jobs, of $34,999.

However, using as a basis the minimum of 30 full time jobs in the County's agreement with Pilot, the County does not qualify for the grant.

The problem of the dueling numbers has not been addressed. While the grant application appears to call for a minimum of 40 FTE jobs, the County agreement with Pilot calls for a minimum of 30 jobs. It is questionable which number of jobs Pilot has to maintain, or if there are two figures, one for the state and one for the County?

Flim-Flam-Tax-Scam: includes a $435,000 cash bonus

The application states: The County anticipates that Project 15-08 [Pilot] will generate an increase in property tax revenues of approximately $68,000 per year in property tax..."

What the application doesn't state is that the County 5 in its Economic Development Agreement with Pilot agrees to pay Pilot $1,115,000 in cash over 10 years, effectively rebating its taxes and throwing in a $435,000 cash bonus, courtesy of Columbia County's tax payers.

Cost per job

The total contribution or incentive from all sources is $3,497,407. That makes the cost per job at 30 jobs: $116,580; and at 40 jobs: $87,435.

Pilot/Flying J

Pilot/Flying J, according to Forbes, is America's 7th largest private company with revenue of $31.1 Billion. James (Jimmy) Haslam III is America's 234th richest person, whose personal fortune now tops $3 Billion.


Jimmy Haslam III probably isn't aware that the American People are financing through the National Debt, and the backs of Columbia County's tax payers, an expansion that make is possible for him to get richer. He can afford to pay his fair share.

But the infamous Columbia County 5 is aware, as are the wizards in Tallahassee, who renamed Rural Areas of Critical Economic Concern (rural areas like Columbia County that are under-housed, under-educated, under-paid, under-employed, and generally under-the-carpet) to "Areas of Opportunity," which gives rich folks and big companies the ability to come in and exploit its number one natural resource, its people, with jobs that don't pay a living wage.

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