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Friday, August 04, 2006

Brewing Company Blackmails New Glarus

by grumbleberries

I've been known to search the countryside seeking the perfect beer. I examine many samples and have narrowed my favorites to but a handful. Ranking high on my list is a product from New Glarus Brewing Company, Spotted Cow to be specific. Somehow this once fine beer will never taste the same after I read this article in the Wisconsin State Journal.

Basically, NGBC is seeking to shake down the village of New Glarus by seeking corporate welfare, er, I mean a TIF district in order to expand the brewery. Although the details are somewhat sketchy, a TIF, usually involves using the tax money collected from the company over ten or so years to pay for the loan needed to provide improvements that are required for the company expansion. This would include roads, sewer and water but not include tax money to support police, fire, schools,or the maintainence of those improvements. The local taxpayer is left to pick up the tab on these government responsibilities.

Tax Incremental Financing or TIF's were originally created in order to encourage companies to rebuild "blighted" areas, primarily urban. Today, most of these TIF's are granted on agricultural land and are used by companies as leverage to get a "deal" on their taxes. If there is no deal offered, the company threatens to relocate. Major League Stadium Districts, WalMart, Target and many others have been known to do this type of hostage taking. Although companies always make promises as to how this will benefit the community, 30 or so new jobs in New Glarus' case, there is no absolute certainty or accountability built into this plan.

As a result, companies get this form of welfare even though they may not need the financial support and create no jobs. Certainly companies like WalMart are not strapped for cash. Given the sales at New Glarus Brewing Company, I'm certain they are not really too worried either. This puts villages like New Glarus in a tough spot. As a result, the taxpayers of New Glarus will probably have tax increases for the priviledge of the Brewer staying in the community. For some reason conservatives see this type of coporate welfare and the tax implications as beneficial to all.

Perhaps a more committed beer "expert" would stick with his best list and not let corporate greed affect how he views the taste of beer but I've had it! No more Spotted Cow! No more contributions to a company that would act in this manner, period. Having made this statement, the afternoon must be spent trying to find an adequate replacement for Spotted Cow! These things do take time. Any suggestions would be welcome!
Update:New Glarus and NGB reach agreement. Corporate welfare wins!

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