My family owns Patzer Woodworking, located at 414 E. Juniper Ave., with warehouse space at 501 E. Juniper Ave. We have been doing business in Mitchell and the surrounding communities for 38 years. I would like to respond to the Oct. 26 front-page article about Patzer Woodworking’s connection to a tax increment financing, or TIF, district.
I was approached several years ago by an individual trying to establish a TIF district in order to get some infrastructure and drainage work done along Juniper Avenue where our business is located. At that time, our business was considering a warehouse addition to our current facility. I was asked to sign the TIF and I said “No,” because we had decided at that time not to do the addition. I was then asked if there was a chance we would do an addition in the next five years and I said, “Maybe, you never know.” As we talked about the TIF and it was explained to me that the more businesses that sign the TIF, the stronger the chances are that it will pass. I signed. I thought, what can it hurt, ours was a very small project.
On Sept. 11 of this year, we had a once in a lifetime rain that devastated our business and many others in the area.
In this past weekend’s article in The Daily Republic, it appears the City Council has put the blame on those of us that signed the TIF and apparently have reneged on their obligation, causing the project to be delayed and thus contributing to the flooding in our area. It was then reported that the city is doing the right thing for its citizens by doing this work even though it is causing financial hardship on the city, in lieu of the lack of follow through the TIF participants.
It appears as though our business’s decision to forgo the warehouse project and choose to improve efficiencies elsewhere in that time period, including adding employees to our small but strong little business, does not mean much to this council. We have added to the sales tax base because our sales were up during that time period and property tax base by doing these things. We did not build the warehouse addition that would have “held up our end of the TIF,” and maybe helped to improve some of the issues we are having, but we did spend money by purchasing equipment, adding employees and growing our business.
Our business also purchased the 12,000-square-foot building across the street from our current location to use as potential warehouse, retail and/or manufacturing space, and also to clean up the property that was becoming an eyesore to our neighborhood. However, that does not mean much to the city, as they feel we did not hold up our end of the TIF.
Here are some things to consider: Our business was nearly destroyed by the inadequate drainage in our area of town — a problem that has existed for many years. Our investment property across the street was also flooded and has not been repaired since the flood because we are too busy trying to repair the building that houses our business, which provides our family and employees a living. We are doing all of this without the help of insurance because this type of disaster is not covered by insurance.
The water that flows down our street everytime we get a big rain has never made it into our building until this year. The current project only connects to the storm sewer on Juniper Avenue and does not replace the storm sewer on Juniper. What about that makes sense?