Kevin White's Second Attached Letter

I have been asked by some to expand and further detail my thoughts regarding the socio-economic ramifications of agreeing to allow Conoco Phillips to lease the fuel depot and build its hulking, landscape dominating, LNG import and conversion facility. I call this model the:

SOCIO-ECONOMIC EFFECTS OF INDUSTRIAL EXPANSION DRIVEN BY PROPERTY TAX DEPENDENT MUNICIPALITIES 

Stimulus

Response

Consequences & Considerations

Industry comes  

Lowered Taxes

Effect is temporary (See below)

Lower taxes

Development

Low taxes spur development pressures. Population density grows as people gravitate toward lower living costs. Sprawl increases as commercial development ensues, drawn by both population growth and reduced cost of doing business.

Population Growth

Land value rise

Supply and demand market mechanism kicks in. Property values increase due to limited resource under increasing demand. Worst affected are low income residents, as values rise to unaffordable levels.

Development    

Municipal Spending

Needing to meet the needs of a growing population and commercial base, town spending rises as accommodations become necessary and unavoidable. Schools are built, roads are expanded and improved, water and sewer lines are installed and/or expanded to serve the needs of the growing populace. Waste management  becomes a greater issue…Social services expand…etc..

These types of expenditures are astronomically costly, which is common for all shared, public spending. The government is the only body capable of this level of expenditure.

Municipal Spending

Higher Taxes

Obviously, when a town spends more, it raises revenue by increasing taxes. The difference this time, is that property values are much higher and large scale spending is underway and ongoing.

Higher taxes

Need for industry

The cycle continues as municipal leaders strive to control higher taxes by soliciting more industry. Ironically, as an inducement, they will often offer industry tax reductions, shifting the tax burden further to local property owners. Net result: More people and greater sprawl.

 This is not a theory. The above model is based on empirical analysis and time tested, tried and true, documented studies and observations.

Conclusion:

Although taxes drop for a short period, eventually any immediate benefit is more than offset by the unavoidable increases in taxes required to fund municipal spending. Usually, the net result is ultimately an increase in taxes. In any case, at the very least, the two wipe each other out. Short term gains are eliminated by long term losses.

The money promised by this project is a null set.

Meanwhile, if one discounts the monetary benefits of this project (BECAUSE THERE ARE NO ONGOING WIDESPREAD JOBS AVAILABLE AT THE COMPLEX AND NO LONG TERM TAX BENEFITS);

Then what is Harpswell left with in the long run?

Answer: A huge, invasive and environmental challenged industrial complex; higher ongoing town expenses with commensurate higher taxes; crowding with higher population density; more commercial sprawl; higher property values with even more displaced lower income residents; devastated fishing grounds and the ever present threat of a major explosion.

Why is this a good idea?

Answer: It isn’t.

There are better industries to grow with; Ones that bring more overall jobs, which leads to slower, more manageable growth; Ones that promise continuing healthy economic vitality by providing many stable, ongoing jobs; Ones that don’t bring with it the dark possibilities of environmental disasters, ruined livelihoods, and risk of fire storm devastation to an entire area.

I keep saying it:

It is NOT about the money. If you weren’t making a lot of money prior to this project, you most likely still won’t afterward. Select people will benefit. The vast majority will be worse off.

It is all about the future of Harpswell…whether or not you like pristine shorelines, beautiful vistas, quiet settings, a healthy environment, great fishing and clamming and a friendly small town atmosphere. Versus: Bringing Cook’s Corner to the intersection of Mountain Road and Rt. 123…that type of thing. Some may nay say…contending there is not enough land in town. I disagree. It looks to me like there is a lot of available opportunity. Where there is a will…they build the way.

I frequently sit out in my front yard and there are many times, even in the middle of the day, that I cannot hear the “sound of man”.

DO YOU FULLY COMPREHEND HOW RARE AND VALUABLE THAT IS???

That’s what Harpswell will be losing.

Forever.

The situation calls to mind a biblical analogy: Judas Iscariot made a terrible mistake in trade for a few silver coins. He deeply regretted his decision and ultimately killed himself over it.

Such is the fate of folks who sell what is truly important for some quick money.

There are better ways…….

Best Regards,

Kevin White

Basin Point Rd.

Beautiful Harpswell Maine.