AP NEWS

New London gets shorted in the wind deal

May 11, 2019

There was enough hot air blowing around New London for the recent announcement about plans to spend 93 million.

The governor went off his debt diet in a big way, splurging on wind with a new total state commitment of 3 billion in profits in 2018.

New London, after complaining, did finally get a commitment of at least 75,000 for municipal services from the deal with the new port operator. Promises of as much as $750,000 a year for the new wind assembly project have been dangled, but there is still no deal in place.

Why wasn’t the city’s share included in all the other deal-making? I can promise it won’t be very good or fair if it’s only an afterthought.

The city may be able to tax some private-owned equipment at the new facility, but it must not be projected to be much since no estimates were suggested.

All the big winners in the wind assembly project had high praise at the announcement ceremony for Mayor Michael Passero, but no firm commitments for more money. They might as well have just patted him on the head.

The quasi-public Connecticut Port Authority, on the other hand, has signed commitments for millions of dollars a year from the wind assembly deal. Unlike the city, the port authority doesn’t have to educate children or send ambulances, police cruisers and firetrucks when things go wrong at the new port.

What will the authority do with all its new riches — gold-plate its bathroom fixtures?

If the wind turbine assembly facility were on private land, the city would be rich in tax revenues. Instead, the state will host on its nontaxable land a private development by a foreign company and thereby shield the project from taxes that otherwise would be paid to one of its distressed municipalities.

Imagine if Toyota were allowed to build cars on state property in the city and not pay taxes.

This is a great injustice to city residents. Alas, the city’s representatives to the General Assembly, from both parties, have signed off, too. Voters should remember.

The concept of the state not paying taxes to municipalities is based on state property being used for public purposes, like bridges and highways and universities. The exemption shouldn’t be used to host a profit-making facility, and lawmakers should put a stop to it, for here and anywhere else it may happen.

The paltry amounts being dangled before the city are wind(ow) dressing, so the governor can have a sound bite saying the city will profit.

I know the owner of a single-family house on the water in New London who pays almost as much as the promised minimum contribution to New London from the port operator deal.

That homeowner, and thousands of others in the city, should know that the governor and the mayor and their representatives in the General Assembly seem more committed to shielding a Danish developer from taxes than cutting taxes for residents.

This is the opinion of David Collins.

d.collins@theday.com