The News Tribune recently published several articles about the feasibility of a port in Jefferson City. The economic benefits of a port were touted but sadly no data was included about the economic windfall that has occurred in Howard and Cooper counties because of their port facility, just 50 miles upriver. You can read about the Howard/Cooper County Port, and see an aerial photo of it, at www.missouriports.org/missouris-ports/howard-cooper-county/. It claims to have storage capacity for 250,000 bu of grain and 4 million gallons of liquid chemicals. Other features are: Two dry storage buildings, a 15,000-ton outside storage pad, a 50-ton crane and a 25-ton crane located on a floating dock as well as a complete line of support equipment including loaders, dump truck, conveyors and repair equipment available on site. The site also advertises 35 prime industrial acres available for development. Is the Howard/Cooper County Port so busy that another port is needed in central Missouri?
The Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce ($27,000), the Cole County Commission ($47,600), the Callaway County Commission ($47,600) and Jefferson City ($47,600) have already “contributed” $169,800 to an Atlanta consulting firm for a “feasibility” study. They now appear to be in the process of paying the same consulting firm another $375,000 as partial payment for another “preliminary” study. They hope to get a $900,000 grant to fund the preliminary planning for the port.
The cost of the port is currently estimated to be $55-60 million. You can bet that estimate will increase dramatically by the time the project is bid. The article didn’t mention the name of the entity that might provide the $900,000, nor who would fund the $55-60 million. You can bet that if the facility is built it will be funded with debt piled on our children, “free money.” I doubt that any city or county politician will have the guts to propose that we who will supposedly benefit from the port, should be the ones to pay for it. Payments on $60 million borrowed for 30 years at 4 percent interest would be $3.4 million annually.
How often have you been told that your taxes are going to be lowered because of the success of a taxpayer funded project?