Tonight was Troutdale's First Friday Art Walk. It was a beautiful night and there was a good turnout. The Mrs. and I got the chance to talk with familiar friends and met some new folks. The subject of a tax break for a proposed FEDEX facility at the old Reynolds Aluminum plant was the main theme of conversation tonight.
Although obviously not a scientific poll, most folks we talked to were either very skeptical or outright opposed to giving a tax break to FEDEX. Some of the comments we heard:
"Why should FEDEX get a tax break when none of our other businesses got one?"
"What makes FEDEX so special?"
"The city council just finished thrashing the Port of Portland about putting an intermodal rail yard there because it would mean 1000 more trucks per day through Troutdale. How do they think FEDEX will ship these packages? By bicycle?"
"How do we know FEDEX would hire Troutdale residents? How many Troutdale residents have a commercial driver license and can afford to buy a truck?" (FEDEX ground drivers are independent contractors and own their trucks)
"Why shouldn't the Port of Portland give FEDEX money to pay for property taxes if its such a good deal? This deal looks good for FEDEX, the Port of Portland, everyone but Troutdale".
"What's the hurry to decide? Can't this go to the voters?"
"Just because a business has its hand out doesn't mean the city has to pay out."
You know what? I didn't have many answers to these questions. I appreciated the input from folks on the street tonight. I hope they show up Tuesday night to the city council's public hearing on the proposed tax break for FEDEX. The rest of the city council needs to hear from them in person, too.