Since late February, when I was informed a major pork processing plant was interested in moving to Mason City, I have read books, journal articles, and university studies. I made phone calls, interviewing professors and other cities’ leaders. Ever since the Prestage announcement, I have met with people of Mason City in their homes, joined them for coffee, and conversed with them over lunch. I have responded to hundreds of emails and took every phone call possible. Ever since the May 3 vote, I maintained all of these tasks.
I have continually tried to educate myself on both sides and made careful consideration of the overall positive and negative impact to public services of a huge processing plant (1500+ Jobs). The monetary cost and demand to the city’s public services and surrounding areas will be greater than the tax dollars we receive from any proposed development agreement. This is not to mention the potential cost to environment and quality of life to our city and region that cannot be adequately predicted. Many of the cities who have ‘gone through the growing pains’ of such plants eventually work out all the problems after a city begins to collect all the tax dollars from these companies.
Even with these concerns, we as a city could roll the dice and negotiate a development agreement where we struggle for 10 years believing in the end we would be better off. However, I feel a development of this size and scope should only be justified by a clear majority of the people to support it. This is definitely not the case in Mason City, opinions are mixed at best. There is no doubt this plant will make people more money; however, it is the other citizens who are opposed to this plant who will have to subsidize this project with their time, energy and potential tax dollars.
As an elected official, it is my duty to do what I believe is best for our city. I do not see how dividing our community is worth it any longer. We need to move forward as a city. This is why I will no longer support any development agreement which concerns Prestage Foods of Iowa.