Most people complain about government corruption and sweetheart deals, but few of us know about the ones in our own backyard.
The politicians in Dover are professionals in this arena. There are times that municipal leaders are even better than them.
But recent activity in New Castle County is having ripple effects on every taxpayer in the state.
In the midst of massive, bloating government across Delaware – from a $100 million looming deficit at the state capitol to the rise of school tax hike referendums . . .
. . . New Castle County’s government is set to finalize an $11 million taxpayer handout to five well-connected farmers in the Port Penn area.
And the program they are receiving this money through, the “New Castle County Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program,” was not even created by a vote from the county council!
We will be covering this in depth at our meeting, as well as updates on our fight against gun control and a forecast on that legislation next year, in the Bear Library this Wednesday, October 28, at 7:00 p.m. (More details below.)
The State Department of Agriculture has a Farmland Preservation program, which is considered one of the best in the country.
They are graded by the amount of land prohibited from development versus the amount of taxpayer money given to farmers for that agreement.
In other words, the state annually gives farmers money for the promise of not contracting with developers.
And while the act of using taxpayer dollars to pay off selected people and control the market is unconstitutional, the First State is at least less costly to the taxpayer and more efficient than other states. So those of us who oppose the program should also oppose any attempts to make it more costly and inefficient.
The state program looks at all of the applications each year and awards those who will preserve the most land value per taxpayer dollar.
But the existing program does not pick your pockets enough for a few farmers in New Castle County. They wanted to “get rich quick,” and someone behind the scenes decided to use a county-level program to make it happen.
They have even struck a deal to pay their crony buddies TEN TIMES the average award price, paying them for every acre, and still allow them to develop up to 40% of their land.
So much for “preservation”!
Awards at the state level typically fall between $1,400 and $1,800 an acre to “preserve” farmland for roughly 10 years.
The farmer keeps their land, continues to farm it, but the contract to prohibit development stays with the property even if they sell it to someone else.
New Castle County’s inaugural handouts for its first five farmers top out around $26,800 an acre.
Yes, you are reading that correctly.
The state program averages under $2,000 an acre, but New Castle County is giving away the store at $20,000+ an acre – with only half of the money coming from your federal tax dollars.
And your state tax dollars are getting thrown in as well.
The first two farmers demanded $6.3 Million in 2014 and their deals have been held up in this swirling controversy. The county said they could secure $3 Million, which the feds would match, bringing the deal $300,000 short.
That’s when State Senators Bethany Hall-Long (D-10th) and Bruce Ennis (D-14th) got involved, inserting a $300,000 appropriation for “New Castle County Farmland Initiative” into the state’s Bond Bill for 2015.
And every state legislator – both in the Senate and the House – voted YES on that Bond Bill, minus Rep. Jack Peterman, who was absent.
Here are the details for our meeting on Wednesday.
Wednesday, October 28, at 7 p.m.
101 Governors Place
Bear, DE 19701
Please join us for all of the details and the steps you can take to put a stop to this Farmland Preservation scam.
Delaware State Coordinator
Campaign for Liberty
P.S. $11 million taxpayer funds are at stake in one of the most brazen acts of cronyism to hit our state in recent memory. Even state and federal dollars are mixed up in the New Castle County “Farmland Preservation” scam.
Help us put a stop to these “Get Rich Quick” schemes. Please join us this Wednesday, October 28, at Bear Library, at 7 p.m.
And please also come prepared to organize against gun control at the municipal, county, and state level as we look ahead to 2016.