Amarillo city officials are reaching into the pockets of taxpayers and businesses to subsidize a local company. These officials claim this will create wealth, but it’s clear that it simply redistributes it.

Last month, the City of Amarillo gave approval for the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation to give taxpayer-funded “incentives” of $1.25 million to Asset Protection Unit, a local business that conducts data mining and “overpayment recovery” for insurance-related industries. This money will be used to help grow the business and “create jobs” — about 125 over five years. As of December 2018, they had over 35 after starting in 2002.

It remains unclear how giving a company $10,000 per job will “create” and sustain a permanent position, but such claims already are based on the dubious assumption that the business would not have expanded from consumer demand without the government handout.

Mayor Ginger Nelson boasted that this giveaway would help further the “growth and expansion” of Amarillo’s economy. The 125 jobs that Asset Protection Unit would create would include “individuals with families.” “They will be paying taxes and contributing to the local economy in countless ways,” she said. This completely ignores the fact that, to give the handout, the City of Amarillo will be taking $1.25 million out of other sectors of the local economy.

The policy also means spending money from taxpayers’ wallets, not for core government services but for a business that local residents may not even support.

A question that the mayor and city council have yet to answer is whether or not this business is even sustainable. If Asset Protection Unit needs taxpayer funds to expand instead of reinvesting in itself or using private loans, what assurances are there that the company won’t continue needing taxpayer funds?

Will these newly created additional jobs exist for as long as the City of Amarillo keeps the spigot flowing? Is there a hard boundary where no more funds will be given to this company? Will there be other companies that taxpayers will be forced to finance in the future?

Taxpayers in Amarillo deserve an answer and are encouraged to contact Mayor Ginger Nelson and Amarillo City Council members to ask for one.


Robert Montoya

Born in Houston, Robert Montoya is an investigative reporter for Texas Scorecard. He believes transparency is the obligation of government.