Altoona City Council members unanimously approved a plan for a second massive building for Facebook, as part of a one billion dollar data center.
Altoona beat out Nebraska for the project by offering Facebook 20-years of property tax free operation and 18-million dollars in tax credits.
“Yeah, they’re not going to pay taxes directly for 20-years,” Mayor Skip Conkling says. “They are buying water from us. They’re paying for the sewer usage. They’ve got 30-to-40 employees that are going to make I guess between 50-to-100 thousand dollars every year. The technical people.”
The mayor says that adds up to millions of dollars in revenue for Altoona, not to mention hundreds of construction jobs.
“It’s really created a ton of jobs,” Councilman Kyle Mertz says. “You think about four hundred jobs in the industry, in the construction industry, these will be there for a while. They’ve been there for a couple years. they’re going to be there for a few years more.”
And while no one spoke against the plan in Monday night’s meeting, some folks, ironically posting on Facebook, are slamming Facebook believing Altoona and the state are literally giving away the farm.
Kraig Behning writes: “So we need thousands of bridges and roads fixed in Iowa, which is paid for through taxes, but all Iowa seems to know how to do is decrease the amount of corporate taxes paid…gee, I think I see a problem soon becoming a catastrophe very soon.”
And Patti Guy Sheeler writes: “We have no trouble taking property tax from people trying to make ends meet, but a huge corp. such as Facebook and they catch a huge break. really?”
Mayor Conkling says, “The state worked out this agreement that we have with Facebook. We can throw blame back and forth but I don’t think we want blame. I think if we want progress, and you don’t want it to go, in this case, to Nebraska, if you’re gonna play you’re gonna pay.”
City leaders say they are seeing a ripple effect. They say drawing other businesses to Altoona is a lot easier when they can boast that the city soon to be home to a one-billion dollar Facebook facility.