Why would a municipality agree to pay bills of a private company when the city does not have enough financial flexibility to meet its own obligations without borrowing?
The City of Hillsboro has agreed to pay over $2 million dollars for bills of Deer Run Mine that would be reimbursed at a later time by Patton Mining. Is this the most prudent way to use citizens’ tax revenue? Keep in mind that the mine has already received tax breaks by being in the Enterprise Zone.
This conflicting arrangement should never have happened. For the City to appropriate approximately 30 percent of its working budget to subsidize Deer Run Mine’s obligations is fiscally irresponsible and establishes a dangerous precedent. How can the City demand that the mine follow critical safety issues when in reality it is a quasi-partner with the mine? The City has placed itself in a very vulnerable position and its residents even more so.
The dates when the loan repayments are made should be made public and interest should be paid to the City based on current rates. The City is having major financial problems; Deer Run Mine, owned by billionaire Chris Cline, is not.
The community’s interests have not been protected in other ways. The airport was sold to Hillsboro Energy LLC on January 9, 2008 for $350,000 with the stipulation that a replacement facility be provided within 10 years or before the present airport is decommissioned – which has already happened. What is the status of a new airport? Hillsboro citizens would certainly like to know.
Local roads, including Route 185, are experiencing heavy use by mine trucks and will be subjected to subsidence. Roads surrounding the mine have been particularly affected, but the expense of repair is not necessarily the responsibility of the mine. Patton Mining is paying for the materials needed to repair the road south of Kink’s Corner, but the county is supplying the labor. The cost of future road repair can be illustrated by the resurfacing of Red Ball Trail for $1.2 Million. The county pays $333,000, grants cover approximately $700,000, Ameren $280,000; so it is ultimately the tax payer who will bear the burden, not the mine.
So, what do you think? Is the City of Hillsboro looking out for the best interests of its residents?