COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. - Taxpayers learning Collier County spent even more money than first thought in their failed attempt to bring Jackson Labs to the area. Now, people say they want it back.
"It was not necessary but it's done. What can we do about it, but people want to get the money back," Naples resident Mary Soto says of the Jackson Labs project.
WINK News started receiving emails from frustrated locals last week about the cost of the project. Tuesday's commission meeting was no different.
"What they should have done is required Jackson Labs to put some money up front," Peter Gaddy from Golden Gate Estates says.
Residents were equally upset to learn the dollar amount on paper wasn't the final total. Over $4,600 spent for three commissioners and a county attorney to head to the company's Maine headquarters was left out, bringing the total to just shy of $100,000.
Commissioner Georgia Hiller says taxpayer concerns are valid and the money could have been spent more efficiently elsewhere, but considers the actual total on in-house work a benchmark for future projects. "They only spent about $50,000 over the course of two years on this $200 million dollar plus, highly litigated, highly publicly debated project."
A few commissioners pointed out that over $40,000 of the total was spent dealing with opposition.
Commissioner Fred Coyle explains, "most of the money spent was the result of the opponents suing us to stop it, when if they'd let the normal course of activity continue it would have died anyway."
Some residents still believe the total is too high for not gaining anything in the end.
Coyle tells WINK News the litigation cost and bad publicity surrounding Jackson Labs during the process has already led to other companies steering clear of Collier that once considered moving here.
Commissioners will go over the grand total, with omitted trip expenses added, at their next meeting.