From Christina Trotta, Harford Campaign for Liberty:
In February of this year, at the request of the County Executive, a resolution was introduced titled ‘Economic Opportunity Fund Loan for Kohl’s Department Stores, Inc’. Resolution 3-14 would have granted Kohl’s Department Stores $400,000 in a conditional loan from Maryland and $100,000 in a conditional loan from Harford County in exchange for the company creating a minimum of 550 new full-time jobs over ten years’ time at their new distribution center in Edgewood.
A conditional loan is a low-interest loan which is forgiven at the end of its term, provided the company meets the local and state governments’ agreed upon goals. The company makes no monthly payments, and frequently does not pay back the principal or accrued interest.
In the case of the proposed Kohl’s resolution, Kohl’s had already received over $2.3 million in tax credits from the state and county and $50,000 from county taxpayers for training of their new employees. With Resolution 3-14, it would have also been the recipient of another $500,000 and the county government would have set a dangerous precedent with the very first conditional loan for Harford.
Harford Campaign for Liberty made it well known through letters to the media and County Council, and phone calls to voters that this resolution was a frivolous use of taxpayer money. Due to our outreach efforts Council members heard from numerous constituents, all expressing their disapproval of the handout.
Instead of sending the resolution to a public hearing and vote, the County Executive’s office has pulled the request, tabling Resolution 3-14 and the conditional loans for the foreseeable future.
Harford Campaign for Liberty supports this decision and applauds the parties responsible for effectively killing the resolution. Making loans and giveaways to private companies are not the function of our local government. Furthermore, such handouts to private companies can create an environment of backroom deals, lobbying and favoritism. We believe that the county’s citizens are better served when county officials concentrate on improving roads, municipal buildings and other public assets, and attracting private investments by providing a great place to live and work – and Harford County is indeed such a place.
Steering Committee Member,
Harford Campaign for Liberty