November 10, 2016

$85,000,000 more in bonds issued on top of $1.1 Billion

JDA logo


In October 2015,  TWG reported that the JDA planned to sell much of their land in Stanton Springs to a developer, Kippy Clarke, at a huge (approximately $4.2 Million) loss of the investment taxpayers had made.  Steve Jordan, a JDA member from Jasper County, told me that the deal was “the best they could do.”  Because of so much vocal opposition throughout the 4 counties, this deal fell through. 

We also learned in October 2015 that Baxter had partnered with Rockdale County schools instead of any of the schools in the 4 counties, and that Newton County had kept the property taxes they collected for the past 10 years on JDA/TPA land instead of distributing the taxes among the 4 counties.

In January 2016, TWG revealed the $1.1 Billion in bonds that JDA approved for Baxter in 2012.  Despite what JDA board members say, this was a well kept secret that very, very few people knew about until this year.

After the revelation of the $1.1 Billion bonds, the 4 counties then had to bail out the JDA because it was to going to default on its notes.  The 4 counties will end up paying $1.9M on the $1.3M loan and $713,000 on the $600,000 line of credit to the Bank of Madison according to the JDA payment schedule. 

 In February 2016, 5 lawyers met, one from each county along with the JDA lawyer, to determine what ‘all’ meant and decide how much money Newton County owed to Morgan, Jasper, and Walton Counties.  The JDA also said it would hold a public meeting with citizens and commissioners to explain everything.  That meeting never happened.

In May 2016 the Newton Citizen reported that JDA was considering more tax incentives.  The elections kept people from noticing.

In August 2016 the JDA reveals a new 50-year IGA with the 4 counties, and allows Newton County to take 5 years to pay the other counties.  The agreement also includes JDA submitting a budget each year to the counties for funding.  During the discussion at the JDA meeting, those attending were informed how much more transparent JDA would now be.

The JDA budget for FY16-17 is $1,026,654, which was revealed in October 2016.

In November 2016 another $85 Million of “phantom bonds” for Shire was approved by JDA after a special called, 24 hour notice, 8:00AM meeting.  How transparent can you get? 

It was revealed by JDA representatives at the 11/7/16 BOC meeting, that these $85M of bonds were part of the new 50-year agreement.  Comm. Pennamon, nor anyone else, brought this up until after the BOC voted to approve the new 50-year IGA.

It seems strange that Shire cannot pay for the additional expansion themselves. Shire/Baxalta made over $962M in PROFITS in the 3rd Q of 2016 alone.  I asked why Shire couldn’t fund this expansion themselves during the BOC meeting.  The answer was it had to do with the tax exemption.  The bonds really seem to have nothing to do with the property tax exemption allowed by JDA to Baxter/Baxalta/Shire.  That exemption comes because the property is in the name of the JDA.

Another question is, how much does Shire save and/or what benefits does Shire get from these $85M in “phantom bonds?’  I understood that answer to be it saved Shire $22M in taxes.  I have requested a written answer to this question but haven’t received it.

Everyone at the BOC meeting was assured by Comm. Pennamon, Comm. Trammell, JDA (Andrea Gray) and Rep. Susan that Jasper County would be getting $40M over 50 years (starting in 2018 or at the latest 2020).  Big figures are used to make it sound “unbelievable” and “wonderful.”  This would be $800,000 per year.

The cash flow projections distributed by JDA show $5.4M to Jasper County over the 10 year period starting 2018.  $540,000 a year would be a huge help for Jasper County; but only if it is used for needs instead of wants, and only if it lowers our property taxes –something that has been promised since JDA started over 15 years ago.

Mary Patrick


Citizens, be informed and stay informed!  Only by being informed, can the citizens understand what is being done and talked about, and then press our officials to make good decisions for everyone in Jasper County.  That is our goal with the Taxdogs blog.




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  1. Plowed Hard And Put Up Wet says:

    Why did such a monumental decision as the one which trapped Jasper County taxpayers in the fifty year, multimillion-dollar JDA debacle that is Stanton Springs come to rest solely in the hands of five county commissioners and the scurrilous crew that pulled their puppet strings?

    The decision to involve Jasper County in Four County Development was one of great socioeconomic consequence for Jasper county citizens, yet was contrived in secret and rushed to vote, with nearly zero publicity.

    JDA’s taxpayer subsidized corporate welfare program will eventually set off a population bomb in Jasper County thereby effectively destroying the rural ambiance of Jasper County forever while putting our financial security in jeopardy as well.

    So in the light of that looming catastrophe, can anyone say why the decision, which locked Jasper County taxpayers into 50 years of fiscal date rape by JDA, was not put on the voter ballot and allowed to be decided by a majority of Jasper County votes instead of the selfish interests of the “chosen few?”

    Maybe Susan Holmes, Steve Jordan, and Carl Pennamon, who were three of the original architects of this rotten JDA deal, would be as kind as to inform us ignorant tax mules why the great Stanton Springs tax swindle was too important to be put to a public vote.

  2. Unstoppable Locomotive says:

    When people cast votes with no thought processes involved, this is what happens. They wake up one day (soon) and wonder what happened to the county they no longer recognize. Higher taxes, overrun schools, overwhelming crime, staggering traffic and roads gone completely to hell. The list goes on. The truth that hurts is that the voters (and the huge number of people that are too lazy give a darn and vote) that keep electing these fools create their own hell. I am more than grateful that I can afford to get the hell out.

    • Force Fed Growth Rural Jasper Will Not Survive says:

      This is what happens when small clique of moral relativists first capture the heart and soul of an influential left-leaning local church congregation and then use that influence to take over a county government. It’s no secret that Jasper County government has been co-opted by a Get-Along-Gang (GAG) of sleazy rogues whose sole objective is to enrich themselves and their friends regardless the cost to taxpayers or the financial security of Jasper County.
      I cannot blame you for leaving. As long as the people of Jasper County allow our county government to be used as a personal bank account by grubby opportunists, the rural charm and neighborly atmosphere of Jasper County will continue to deteriorate and lose ground to self-serving special interests and all the evils that come with it, including crime, congestion and urban blight.
      Good luck.

  3. The Other Half Of A Half-Truth Is A Lie says:

    Over the years, the changing figures of tax revenue estimates and land value fantasies propagated by JDA via a complicit local and four county press is astounding.These numbers seem to change with whatever flavor of half-truths and disinformation Steve Jordan and his gang of economic development terrorists are selling that day. Where do they get these numbers ? Do they pull these numbers from the same place they have pulled their floundering business plan…straight out of their butts?

    Many examples of JDA’s throw it at the wall and see what sticks approach to the farce they call transparency can be seen just by going back and re-reading all the contradictory claims that JDA has made in the press over the past twenty years.A true investigative reporter would have a field day.But, I digress.

    One recent example of disinformation comes from Gene Trammell, a chief JDA/economic development debt shill who frequently regurgitates the uncited claim that households provide $1 in tax revenue to $3 in costs for services, but industries generate $2 for every $1 in costs for services.


    This is just another of Trammell’s half-truths designed to mislead the taxpayers into more predetermined public debt traps. The myriad of variables involved in the factors of this statement renders it ludicrous. Obviously empty nest retirees building a $500,000 dollar house are not going to need the level of services a family of four purchasing $100,000.00 starter home will and the latter is just the sort of household that new industry attracts.

    Let’s say Shire creates a whopping 2,000 new jobs. Imagine 400 hundred of those new employees come to live in Jasper County. Now, for sake of argument, let’s say every household contains two children. That’s 800 new children enrolled in Jasper County public school system. Each child cost taxpayers $8,000 dollars to educate. This will add an additional $6.4 million dollars to a shrinking Jasper County school board budget. You think your taxes are high now.

    Of course, the state and Federal government subsidizes the Jasper County school system to some degree and then there is the much-vaunted $800,000.00 a year in tax purportedly rolling in from Shire Industries. The question then is: Will Federal, state and Shire Industries take up the school board’s future revenue slack? Maybe, but let’s pull back the Trammell veil of half-truths, examine the math and see.

    For the sake of argument, we’ll throw Half-Truth Gene a bone, and say the school system
    receives 75% of it’s funding from state and federal revenue sources leaving a tax burden of only 25% falling on the Jasper County taxpayers.

    By this formula, property owners now owe only $1.6 million dollars towards the cost of educating the 800 new students and subtracting the estimated $800,000.00 per year Shire Industry may provide the county in tax revenue – if the county donates the entire amount to the school board – there still remains an astounding deficit of $800,000.00.

    Now to be fair to Half-Truth Gene and his “majikal maf” formula, we need to acknowledge that these 400 new households may pay property tax as well, unless as seen in most new urban areas, apartment complexes suddenly spring up and many choose to reside there.

    However, say all 400 new households pay an undetermined amount of property tax. Does this new found tax revenue then cover the $800,000.00 deficit just subtracted from the school board budget balance?

    Perhaps, but will it be enough to cover the additionally created new school infrastructure cost (buildings, transportation, school faculty, staff and administrators) that will be required to serve the 800 new students? These future taxpayer expenses are deliberately ignored by pro-development pushers like Trammell and due to the many variables involved, cannot be known prior to their creation.

    And,therein dwells the fault in Half-Truth Gene’s “majkal maf” formula. Economic Development creates jobs. Jobs need workers. Workers need places to live. Places to live need infrastructure (e.g. utilities, roads, housing, public schools, government bureaucracy, law enforcement, trash service, healthcare, recreation etc.), so to pretend it’s all cake and party hats just to get funding for JDA and their corporate welfare queens is not only dishonest, but also totally reckless and irresponsible on the part of all involved.

    The problem with half-truth is the other half is a lie. If you support a half-truth then you support the lie.

    Half-Truth Gene is not alone in this deception. There are many so called county leaders like Susan Holmes, David Dyer, Stone Workman and Steve Jordan who have all participated in the taxpayer funded industry equals glorious prosperity ruse, which makes them if not a party to dishonesty, then certain an accessory to the lie.

    The consequences of deliberately induced population growth are no secret. So in the future remember this. When our wooded and pastoral county turns from peaceful and serene to one of screaming sirens and congested traffic, you the citizens of Jasper County will know whom to thank. And, make sure you thank the deceivers loud and hard.

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