Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Brevard County Commission Gives Walmart $3.74 Million In Tax Breaks

BREVARD COUNTY, Florida - The Brevard County Commission voted 4-1 on Tuesday to award Wal-Mart $3.74 million dollars in real and personal property tax exemptions over the next ten years to develop a warehouse and distribution center at Port Canaveral Logistics Park in Cocoa, Florida. Commissioner Trudie Infantini was the sole no vote.

Wal-Mart's distribution center is expected to create 239 jobs over the next three years with an average annual wage of $42,421. The company plans to spend over $84 million in new construction costs to develop the 460,000 sq. ft. facility on the 132-acre site formerly known as 'Brevard Crossings' located at the southeast corner of I-95 and State Road 524. 

Wal-Mart's Transformation to Online Retail and Shipping

Wal-Mart has been increasing its number of distribution and fulfillment centers while closing retail locations across Florida, along with the rest of the United States, as the retail giant evolves its brick-and-mortar business model to more online shopping and shipping. Just last week, Wal-Mart took direct aim at online retailers like Amazon by announcing 2-day shipping instead of 3-day shipping.

“We can offer faster and more affordable shipping because we have a unique fulfillment network that includes new large scale fulfillment centers, stores, distribution centers and our transportation network,” Wal-Mart said in a statement.

Criticism of Wal-Mart Taxpayer Subsidies

Wal-Mart's long history of seeking tax breaks from state and local governments across the U.S. is not without criticism, however. According to a 2004 study by the tax watchdog organization Good Jobs First, Wal-Mart had already received over $1 billion in economic development subsidies and 90% of its distribution centers had been subsidized. 

In September 2015, Wal-Mart received over $20 million in economic development subsidizes to develop fulfillment centers in Polk County.

"Because of our work to create a business-friendly environment, more businesses like Walmart are choosing Florida as the best place to grow and create new jobs,” Florida Governor Rick Scott said of the Polk County expansion.

In addition to economic development subsidies, Wal-Mart's employees are also subsidized by taxpayers by social welfare programs. In 2005, the St. Petersburg Times reviewed data obtained from the Department of Children and Families and found that Wal-Mart had more employees enrolled in Medicaid than any other employer in Florida.

Image credit: SCGTV / Wal-Mart