Dump Documents Dispatch #5
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This is one of our favorites, and it begins to get to the heart of the dump deal, which is basically about giving money to Georgia Pacific. The landfill sale was only part of a larger overall financial package. The final sale price for the State to buy the landfill from G-P (which equals the amount paid by Casella to the State for the privilege of running it) was either $26 million or $31 million, depending on how you account for a separate $5 million side deal between Casella and G-P. Now we know that the financial benefits to G-P for this entire deal over 30 years are in the range of $160 million and up. This includes landfill sale, other cash, tax breaks, below-market fuel cost subsidies, sludge and ash disposal at below-market subsidies, and reduced electric rates.
From the time of the earliest contacts between the State and G-P about this deal (April, 2003), the State's position has been to listen and to comply, while G-P spelled out its requirements and expectations of financial incentives they needed to stay in Maine. The upfront cash, in the form of Casella's bid to run the landfill commercially, was one piece among various internal corporate efforts to increase G-P's bottom line for calendar 2003, as well as to find a way to close one or the other (or both) the Old Town mill and G-P's similar mill in Plattsburgh, New York. All very complicated, but the State jumped right in. No problem. What can we do for you? Or, as the Bangor Daily News put it in an editorial May 3, 2003 titled "Reprieve on the Penobscot," Baldacci's efforts on behalf of G-P's Old Town mill are a welcome sign that "...Maine is open for business."
By December, G-P was apparently not satisfied with the dollars forthcoming. After letting the State know that they might close the Old Town mill in any case (at least this is our reading of several memos -- please stay tuned) more millions were offered, mostly in the form of increased tax breaks. Rick Douglas, a manager at the Old Town mill, apparently didn't see any need to be subtle: "...a good collection of 'singles and doubles'...no home runs..." It seems that the home runs showed up within the next few days.
For accuracy, there seems to be an error in the memo below. The figures given as "$800-$900m" and "$300m" should probably be read as thousands, not millions.
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