Westerville

City doesn't belong in development business

Wednesday July 10, 2013 3:37 PM

To the Editor:

It was interesting to read on June 13 that the city of Westerville plans to spend $16.2 million of taxpayers' money to buy a 67 acre parcel known as "Altair" ($241,791 per acre) "so the city can market individual parcels for retail, office and hotel development."

The city plans to issue $10 million in bonds "to allow for the purchase of infrastructure including water, sewer and electric service and landscaping on the site." Apparently, this city-managed development project expects to collect enough money from the land to pay this off. The city plans to borrow $7 million through issuance of bonds, (that would need to be paid off through taxpayer taxes) for the purchase of the property. The excuse for a municipality going into the risky development business and competing with the private development sector seems to be, "We are virtually out of shovel-ready properties in the city.

It would seem to most Westerville taxpayers and residents that if this property was so "hot," the market would dictate what goes on it and its owners would develop it or sell all or part of it.

If Westerville has a great deal of taxpayer cash on hand, they should consider refunding the taxpayers' money rather than speculating with their money and competing with the taxpaying private sector with a "socialist" government development project.

This kind of activity only distorts the market and increases residents' tax burden in the long run. For example, for every socialist subsidized project there is a free market, no cost to taxpayer, non-taxpayer subsidized project that could be destroyed.

Walter G. Reiner

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