At the September 19, 2019 County Commission meeting, I learned an individual is desiring to purchase two 1-acre parcels of land in the industrial park. These lots currently are owned by the county, so there is zero tax revenue coming from them (100% of nothing). One lot was being sold for $12,000 with an $8,000 incentive in exchange for two jobs the buyer will provide- and must document. Even though there was no incentive involved on the second lot, the buyer was still liable for similar requirements. A lesson we should have learned via the still vacant Harrell nut company is that even if no jobs arrive, taking land out of the public domain and placing it into the private domain is the best use of it, especially in an industrial park, since it now generates property taxes (80% of something).
In the case of the Harrell purchase, that company leveraged “free” land to flip the property to Archer-Daniels-Midland, who have paid tens of thousands in property tax dollars since the purchase several years ago. We are now fiscally ahead over not selling it, although it could have easily gone the other way. That is a gamble when government gets involved in so-called economic development. The best thing it can do is stay out of the way of a business owner that wishes to develop vacant industrial property. Florida operated largely without government involvement in economic development until about 20 years ago when the Legislature expanded statutes to allow this practice- which remains contrary to Florida’s Constitution.
Our namesake Thomas Jefferson espoused a similar thought in his first inaugural address when speaking about foreign policy. He said these United States should have friendship with all nations and entangling alliances with none. Using entangling requirements to sell county-owned industrial land is not the best practice for either the county or the buyer.