The Palm Beach County Comptroller produced a report stating that the #1 increase to taxes in 2008 (33% of the increase) was the cost of subsidizing Scripps’s failure on Mecca Farms.
Mecca Farms was once destined to become a “Biotech City” as well, another spin-off development anchored by The Scripps Research Institute.
In 2004, to lure in Scripps, Palm Beach County spent:
- $60 million to acquire the 1,919-acre Mecca Farms property.
- $40 million on planning and development to get Mecca Farms ready for Scripps.
- $51 million on a water pipeline to serve the property and development expected to follow.
But by 2006, environmental objections caused the County Commission to move Scripps to Jupiter. The County sold Mecca Farms for a mere $26 million four years later.
In Checks & Balances: Your Guide to County Finances (FY2009) Popular Annual Financial Report , produced by the Comptroller’s office answers the question, “Why did certain expenses increase?” with this on page 14: “…an almost $38 million loss from Mecca Farms, the original Scripps site.”
Scripps committed to 500 jobs in exchange for their massive subsidies. At over $580 million in public money spent that’s more than $1 million per job created.
According to a report by the Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability (OPPAGA): “A particularly important statutory and contractual requirement for Scripps Florida is related to job creation. Specifically, by law and contract, Scripps must have created at least 280 new jobs by the end of its fifth contract year.” Scripps claims that as of December 31, 2008, they had “282.80 jobs on a full-time equivalent basis,” whatever that means. Of the 116 employees that Scripps Florida hired in Fiscal Year 2008-09, only 45 were Florida residents. This is nothing short of fraud.