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2012-07-22
Bryan, Texas. City Considers Giving $5 Million Welfare Subsidy To Wal-Mart

The nickame for the city of Bryan, Texas is "The Good Life, Texas Style." Naturally, people in Texas want big stores to cater to their big-spending ways, so it is not surprise that people in this community are considering a Wal-Mart superstore. But this proposal has turned into the 'good life' for Wal-Mart, because it includes a big, fat subsidy at taxpayers' expense.

Bryan has a population of close to 77,000 people, and is the county seat in Barazos county in southeast central Texas. The city is bordered to its south by the city of College Station, which markets itself as having a "small town feel, big-city features." The college in College Station is Texas A&M, and the total population is roughly 97,000 people. College Station likes to point out that it has the third lowest property taxes in Texas.

With this kind of profile, the Bryan-College Station metro area would certainly fit the Wal-Mart profile. No surprise that on July 29th, the Bryan City Council will consider a $5 million welfare subsidy to the developer of the Wal-Mart store.

According to The Eagle newspaper, a developer named Crossfulton Investments Ltd, to construct a 150,000 s.f. Wal-Mart superstore on the west side of the city. There already is a Wal-Mart supercenter in Bryan on Briarcrest Drive, plus a Wal-Mart superstore a few miles away in College Station on Brothers Boulevard. So the Crossfulton project would be the third superstore in the immediate area. Despite this level of saturation, the Deputy City Manager of Bryan told The Eagle newspaper that retail stores in this area of the city are currently scarce. He said another Wal-Mart superstore will "provide services that have not been there before."

Under the tax increment financing deal, the developer keeps 75% of the city's sales tax revenue for the first three years after the store opens, and then half of the sales tax for the next 12 years, or up to $5 million in tax breaks, whichever comes first. Last year, Wal-Mart has net sales in the U.S. of $264 billion. It is not clear why local officials in Bryan believe that taxpayers in the city need to pony up $5 million for such a retailer, but Wal-Mart has grown very fond of such corporate bailouts over the years. Considering the lifespan of a Wal-Mart store, the Bryan project will spend far more years receiving tax breaks than paying the sales tax rate that other competing merchants have to pay. In effect, public dollars are being used to give a business advantage to the large chain store that its smaller competitors cannot get.

Wal-Mart has told city officials in Bryan that another superstore will "create 350 jobs," and $30 to $60 million in sales. There is no way the city can substantiate how many "new" jobs another superstore will create, since no one has taken the time to assess the impact this project will have on existing retailers like Food City, Star, Kroger, H.E.B. and the many small local grocery stores in the Bryan-College Station trade area. What this new store will do is simply shift more market share to Wal-Mart, but it is unlikely that it will create any new jobs.

What you can do: In the understatement of the year, The Eagle newspaper noted, "Wal-Mart occasionally runs into opposition from the neighborhoods near its proposed stores." In fact, Wal-Mart has a very controversial history in this trade area.

Six years ago, the neighboring city of College Station voted down a Wal-Mart by refusing to support a rezoning for a developer's site. Wal-Mart had to drop its superstore plans, and instead increased the size of an existing store in the area.

So far the nearby Rockwood Park Homeowners Association has kept silent on the project, but all taxpayers in Bryan should be up in arms about the 99% having the subsidize the Mother of all 1% corporations: Wal-Mart.

Readers are urged to contact the Bryan City Council Mayor Jason Bienski at: councilweb@bryantx.gov with the following message:

Dear Mayor Bienski,

No welfare for Wal-Mart!

If Crossfulton wants to build another Wal-Mart superstore in Bryan -- just miles from the exisiting Wal-Mart superstore -- there is no need to ask taxpayers to subsidize this deal. The taxpayers and the schools will lose up to $5 million in revenues -- just so Wal-Mart can have another unfair advantage over its smaller competitors.

This project creates no new net jobs. It will simply transfer sales from Kroger, H.E.B. and the other existing grocers in the city. There is no justification economically for giving a tax break to one of the world's weathiest retail corporations.

I urge the City Council to tell Crossfulton and Wal-Mart that if they want to get more market share in Bryan, they will have to do it on their own dime -- just like their competitors had to.

No corporate bailouts for the 1% corporations!










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

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