Afghanistan Forces Intimidate, Rob US-Hired Contractors

Afghan National Army soldiers

Afghan National Army soldiers receive care packages from a US Army chaplain’s assistant at Camp Miawon, Logar Province, Afghanistan. Photo credit: US Army

Morale is so low in Afghanistan’s armed forces that its soldiers — once expected to be a bulwark against the Taliban — have been stealing from and brutalizing US-paid local contractors.

The total value of property stolen has exceeded $780,000, and contractors have been held at gunpoint, beaten, “locked in containers for extended hours,” and had their heads shaved, according to the March 2019 report of SIGAR, or the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

The report reviewed three US Army Corps of Engineers contracts worth about $1.1 billion. While no weapons or sensitive materials were reported to be among the equipment stolen (which ranged from tools to office supplies), almost 300 serious incident reports were filed between 2011 and 2013 alone, the SIGAR report noted.  REST OF STORY HERE

Walmart distribution center to create 600 jobs

More than 600 jobs with an average annual salary of $43,000 are coming to Polk County, and officials are hoping this will help get their residents back to work.

“I think this is win, win, for our community and jobs,” said Polk County Board Commissioner George Lindsey.

That was the sentiment throughout the Polk County Board of Commissioners. The board welcomed Walmart’s new distribution center with open arms because commissioners were sold on the estimated 625 jobs it would create.

“We are going to be putting in excess $27 million back into our economy,” said Commissioner John E. Hall.

Walmart brings 600 jobs to Polk County

The new facility will be located near the intersection of Interstate 4 and U.S. Highway 27 near Davenport. It will consist of two new buildings comprising approximately 1 million square feet each, with a total estimated value of $100 million.

What makes this deal sweet for Walmart is the company won’t have to pay county property taxes for 10 years. Yet, some commissioners would like to find other ways to get some revenue out of this deal.

“We are losing a $1 million a year with a $60 million impact. But we are collecting $1.5 million of other funds. They are not coming here free gratis. They are still going to pay for police and fire, and they are going to pay for parks, the school boards,” said Melony Bell, commissioner from District 2.

With a quick vote Polk County leaders took one more step of putting people back to work. Lindsey called the vote, “All in favor say ‘aye’. ‘Aye’. The motion carries.”

Additionally, Walmart plans to purchase various handling equipment valued at $106.8 million, for a total estimated capital investment of $206.8 million. The project is scheduled for completion and opening near the end of 2016.

Public Hearing bullet points for the new Walmart Distribution Center

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. – Public Hearing 7/7/15

·This is a public hearing to consider adoption of an ordinance granting an Economic Development Ad Valorem Tax Exemption to a proposed new business in Polk County, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., and to approve a Performance Agreement with the company.

·The new Wal-Mart project under consideration is a warehouse, distribution and logistics center proposed near the I-4 / US Highway 27 interchange near Davenport in unincorporated Polk County.

·The project is scheduled for completion and opening near the end of 2016 and will add an estimated 625 new full-time jobs paying 115% ($42,087) of the County’s average annual wage, as well as additional part-time and seasonal jobs.

·The facility will consist of 2 new buildings comprising approximately 1 million square feet each, with a total estimated value of $100 million.

·Additionally, the company will purchase various material handling equipment valued at $106.8 million, for a total estimated capital investment of $206.8 million.

·The company qualifies for the County’s tax exemption program as a Target Industry Business in the field of Logistics and Distribution, and is eligible, based on the adopted guidelines, for a 100% reduction in applicable ad valorem taxes for a 10-year period, running from 2017 through 2026.

·Based on the Property Appraiser’s Report, if the exemption is granted, it’s estimated that $1,236,327 in ad valorem taxes will be lost each year of the 10 year exemption period. The property in its current use generates a total Countywide ad valorem tax revenue of $4,290 annually. So starting in Tax Year 2027, the County would recognize an ad valorem tax revenue gain of approximately $1.23 million per year, not accounting for depreciation.

·Additionally, to address a question raised at yesterday’s agenda review, the tax exemption under consideration applies only to countywide ad valorem taxes levied by Polk County on the qualifying improvements to real property and qualifying tangible property specified in the Application. The exemption does not apply to taxes levied by a school district, MSTU’s, water management district or other special taxing district or to taxes levied for the payment of bonds or taxes authorized by a vote of the electors.

·Accordingly, staff has calculated the amount of taxes, fees and assessments that would be collected on the property by these other taxing authorities, and the total is just under $1.5 million. Of that amount, approximately $1.3 million would be collected by the School Board, with the remaining $200k going toward MSTU’s, SWFWMD, and Fire Services.

·Finally, adoption of this Exemption Ordinance will require a supermajority vote of the Board, due to the approximate $1.2 million exemption amount for Walmart, when added together with the previously granted exemptions, exceeding the maximum annual exemption amount of $2,000,000, as set by Ordinance 13-017. The total forgone revenue for 2017, if this exemption is approved, would be $2,310,924.