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2006-10-12
Broomfield, CO. Wal-Mart Subsidy Deal Dead…For Now

On September 21, 2006, Sprawl-Busters reported that city officials in Broomfield, Colorado had offered to pay for 49% of the cost of site acquisition for a Wal-Mart supercenter -- a deal that would subsidize Wal-Mart to the tune of $7.85 million, funded by taxpayers. A group was formed to oppose this tax giveaway, called Broomfield First, and their first order of business was to get the City Council to delay accepting a bid from Wal-Mart for the land deal. The City Council, acting as the Broomfield Urban Renewal Authority, passed a measure in August that would pay the family that owns the land, $15.85 million to relocate their poultry processing facility. Under the plan, a developer would pay the family $8 million for the land, and BURA would pay the remaining $7.85 million to the family during a period of time up to 15 years. The city put the plan quickly out to bid, and the only proposal expected was from Wal-Mart. But this week, the City Council played "chicken" with the poultry deal, and left Wal-Mart plucked. Dottie Rawsky, one of the organizers of Broomfield First, sent out the following note to her members, just after the City Council voted 5-4 not to accept the Wal-Mart proposal. "I feel like I just won the Super Bowl! For those of you who weren't able to attend last night's City Council meeting, the one where we were going to present a show of force, watch the council vote to pursue the Wal-Mart offer, then go home and figure out how to continue our fight, boy, did you ever miss a show! 30 wonderful Broomfield citizens chose to present their reasons why the Council should not begin negotiations with Wal-Mart. Five citizens spoke in favor of Wal-Mart. The Barber family [the land owners] sat quietly throughout this very long evening, anticipating their three-years-in-the-making deal with Wal-Mart would proceed. After a break following 1-1/3 hours of citizens' comments, eight of the nine council members present and the mayor chose to speak their minds about this deal. We heard some very long and heated responses. We thought we were defeated. Then they voted. The large, tired audience who stayed 4-1/2 hours to witness the outcome was in shocked disbelief when the voted tallied 5-4 against acceptance! So it's back to the drawing board for the Barbers and the City! Please be sure to express your appreciation to the five conscientious members who voted their constituents' wishes. I want to say: "Broomfield Beat Wal-Mart", and we did! But Wal-Mart has been known to come back to fight another day. So while we can rejoice in our victory and take a breather, it's important that we continue to build our infrastructure and be even better prepared to defend our city should they show their stupid smiley faces around here again! Wal-Mart counts on communties letting down their guard so they can sneak in the back door when we're not looking. We must remain vigilant. While we can relax a bit for a moment, we cannot take our swords and go home or turn a blind eye. Please come and celebrate with our hard workers and help us build a fortress that not even Wal-Mart can tear down!"

What you can do: Broomfield First is wise not to let down their guard, because they have won a battle, but not the war. It ain't over till the fat company sings. Wal-Mart lost by one vote, and they still want that property. The family that owns the land is still highly motivated to make another effort to get the City Council to reverse its decision. The city continues to insist that using sales tax money to pay the landowner millions of dollars that Wal-Mart otherwise would have to pay, is not welfare for Wal-Mart. The fact is, this deal does not work in the free marketplace.Wal-Mart says it can't afford to whole asking price, and so subsidies from the city were needed. Any sales tax that does not go back to the city is lost revenue. If the deal between the buyer and the seller requires millions in welfare from the city's taxpayers, then the deal is not worth doing. For an earlier story, search Newsflash by "Broomfield."










 
 
"Norman has become the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement" ~ 60 Minutes

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