State Subsidies for Oceanfront Development:
Who Let That Happen?
On November 21, Georgia State Senator Jeff Chapman issued a press release calling for an official investigation of contracts signed between the Governor-appointed board of the Jekyll Island Authority (JIA) and several companies involved with the redevelopment of Jekyll Island State Park. These contracts allow for millions of dollars of publicly-generated revenue to be handed out as ‘incentives’ for developers to take on lucrative oceanfront real estate projects. Senator Chapman has requested that the Georgia Department of Audits conduct a Performance and Compliance audit of the JIA contractual agreements in question and has called for a halt to further contract signings by the JIA, including the private-public partnership contract between the JIA and Linger Longer Communities, until the investigation is completed.
The first of a three-part series of articles on the fiscal practices of the JIA board, Senator Chapman’s editorial raises some troubling questions, not the least of which is why is the JIA board doling out incentives for beachfront development projects at a time when the JIA is cash starved. The simple fact is that the less revenue the JIA takes in from current redevelopment projects, the more fuel for the argument that additional development is needed for Jekyll Island State Park in order to provide the Authority with the revenue it needs.
Readers who find the Senator’s revelations to be disturbing may contact Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle (http://www.cutwaste.org/report.aspx), their own state legislators, or the members of the Jekyll Island Authority Legislative Oversight Committee and urge them to support the Senator’s request for an official investigation by the Georgia Department of Audits. For contact information for state legislators, go to http://www.legis.state.ga.us/. For contact information for Oversight Committee Members, click here. For the complete text of Senator Chapman’s editorial, click here.