Seminole Co. taxpayers get paid back when companies can't fulfill deals

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SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - Seminole County commissioners have agreed to give big tax breaks to a Maitland company that wants to create as many as 600 jobs in Lake Mary.

But Channel 9’s Bianca Castro discovered why, for Seminole, these kinds of deals haven't been working out as planned.

Verizon Communications officially started work on its Lake Mary facility on Tuesday after getting $2.2 million in local tax incentives for the expansion.

“Anytime you have a company like Verizon coming in building a 200,000-square-foot facility and adding 750 jobs in the area, it can't be anything but good,” said Michelle Robinson of Verizon.

But many of those jobs will go to Verizon employees transferring from out of state, so Channel 9 asked just how successful are the tax incentive packages?

Castro combed through records and found that the county has 16 outstanding deals with companies that have yet to fulfill their end of the bargain.

The oldest deal dates back to 2004 when health care company Cura Script was awarded $182,000.

No one at the company would talk to WFTV, but county officials said any company that doesn't produce as promised must pay taxpayers back.

“If a company doesn't perform, we actually have surety on those,” said John Krug, Seminole’s economic development director. “Sometimes it's a letter of credit, it's a performance bond, but if a company doesn't live up to the terms of its agreement, we get the money back.”

Channel 9 found six companies have failed to hold up their end of deal and either withdrew or paid taxpayers back.

Officials weren't able to say just how many jobs the deals have created.

The latest deal with Digital Risk in Maitland is supposed to create 300 jobs this year alone.

Digital risk company officials have said they'll create new mortgage-related jobs with a base salary around $44,000.