By Mike Sunnucks | Phoenix Business Journal
A court in Tucson has nixed an economic development and real estate deal between Pima County and a space tourism and scientific research firm that uses high-altitude balloons to get into Earth’s stratosphere.
Pima County Superior Court Judge Catherine Woods sided with the Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute, which had challenged a deal between Pima County and World View Enterprises.
Under that deal, the county designed and built a 135,000-square-foot headquarters and space port for World View on county-owned land. The county deal with World View called for the county also to pay to build the Spaceport Tucson for no more than $15 million. Pima is also paying to build a $1.5 million port for high-altitude balloons.
The gift clause doesn’t wholly prohibit tax dollars or breaks from supporting economic development deals with private interests, but it demands that the deal be fair and that taxpayers receive a bang for their buck. This case demonstrates that Arizona courts continue to review public-private deals with a critical eye. It is therefore of the utmost importance that companies carefully review their development deals before moving forward to ensure that the benefits conferred to the municipality or State are not grossly disproportionate to those it is receiving.
~Evan Bolick, Rose Law Group litigation attorney, works on gift clause compliance issues