It Went To Wisconsin

 

Recently the Coos County Commissioners met and approved a number of grant applications. One of these applications is for the Fraser Paper Mill in Gorham. “The second project seeks $500,000.00 in economic development loan funds. The county would retain $20,000.00 for administrative costs and sub-grant $480,000.00 to the Northern Community Investment Corporation (NCIC), which, in turn, would retain $10,000.00 for loan servicing costs and loan the balance $470,000.00 to the Fraser Cascade Paper Mill in Gorham to help pay for construction of a 3,600-foot-long natural gas pipeline from a Portland Natural Gas Transmission head located in Berlin.”

This is certainly a quality idea. The Fraser mill will have access to a natural gas fuel source traded on the NYMEX that will hopefully enable the mill to lower or at least control its variable costs making it more competitive in the global marketplace; and in the end create taxbase and jobs for Coos County. I don’t support spending taxpayer money on “loan servicing” costs for organizations that are already taxpayer funded but if this project leads to something much larger, these costs will be worth it.

But then I read on…

“The Fraser grant takes the place of one for which the county commissioners had already voted their approval for developer Greennova, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hingham, Mass. based Woodstone USA.” Their intentions are to relocate a pellet plant into the Berlin Industrial Park. Intentions that are now apparently on hold because of financing. I’m still reading “The progress of a previous CDBG (grant) project that was to have been used to install a biomass boiler system at the Fraser Cascade paper mill in Gorham, in which $1,000,000.00 was loaned $500,000.00 by the County and $500,000.00 by the Town of Gorham. When a complete financing package could not be assembled the by-then specialty built boiler was shipped to a Wisconsin mill.” “NCIC vice president Cathy Conway explained that efforts to collect loan payments from the Wisconsin mill were going forward and a minimum payment had been received.”

I would hope that the Wisconsin mill is making the loan payments. Especially since NH Taxpayers have fronted the money and are taking the risk.

What about a default in the loan payments? The owner of the Wisconsin mill wasn’t stated. Fraser Papers Incorporated in Gorham is already in bankruptcy reorganization proceedings as approved by legal authorities in Ontario, Canada and Wilmington, Delaware.

I think if NH Taxpayers are left holding the short stick when the dust settles that NH officials that were involved with this project including the grant authors and the recipients of the “loan servicing fees.” should be held accountable and/ or criminally charged for their actions. I’ll stop short of calling this direct fraud.

I don’t think NH Taxpayers should be financing projects in Wisconsin.

 

Source of quotes: Coos County Democrat Newspaper 12/30/09. Page A6.