The state's purchase yesterday of Grandfather Mountain was sold to us as a way to "preserve North Carolina’s spectacular public lands for future generations." That may be true, but it's really just another corporate welfare scheme.
What the state has done is basically give the operators of a for-profit venture a waiver of property taxes — forever. By the state purchasing the land, that land no longer generates property tax revenue. One less expense for the former owners to pay, but one less tax generating property for the counties to receive revenue from.
What a great deal for the Morton family — they get $12 million in cash, no longer have to pay
property taxes and they get to continue to charge $15 per person admission to a now "public" land.
Is there really any difference between the purchase of Grandfather Mountain versus the Dell or Google incentive deals, or the Randy Parton Theater debacle? Government is waiving property taxes (Google), giving cash to the business owners (Dell) and in turn subsidizing a tourist destination (Parton).
This deal has all the elements of prior failed corporate welfare programs, just covered in the guise of preservation.
And as for "preservation" — was there some big threat from developers to swoop in and purchase the land and start building condos? I haven't heard of one. So what's the urgency for the state to buy up the land (or Chimney Rock, for that matter)?
So let's skip the bull about how great this is in preserving a NC landmark. That's just a cover story sold to the public.
This is simply another corporate welfare payoff where we the taxpayers get to help line some rich guy's pockets. (And it probably didn't hurt that the Mortons are longtime bigwig Democratic donors.)
So here's to another corporate bailout. This time at least we get a park out of it — oh wait, we still have to pay to see it.