Washington Mutual wants ALL taxpayers to foot the bill for their expansion!

Link to article here.

Haven’t we had enough of developers and big business skirting out of paying for the infrastructure their expansion brings? Here’s a fresh example from Washington Mutual who is essentially threatening the city to NOT add jobs if they don’t agree to make ALL taxpayers pick-up the tab for a road expansion to benefit a private company. None of us mind pooling our taxes together to build and maintain needed infrastructure for the general public benefit, but not to suit a private company’s desire to expand its facility on the taxpayers’ dime. Let’s not forget the multi-million dollar tax subsidies Washington Mutual has already enjoyed. They just want more. Enough is never enough for these companies unless we, the TAXPAYERS, tell them NO MORE! See some great analysis from Transportation Consultant and Toll Party supporter, Bill Barker, below this article.

WaMu says road critical to expansion
By William Pack
Express-News Business Writer

Washington Mutual hopes to decide by the end of the year whether a fourth building and potentially 2,500 people can be added to its North San Antonio campus, the thrift’s executive vice president said Friday.

J. Benson Porter, who is also Washington Mutual’s chief administrative officer, said the company has been pleased by the growth of the regional center off Stone Oak Parkway in its first nine months of operations and is studying expansion options that would add a fourth building to the site.

Several factors will be part of an expansion decision, but the primary issue concerns the public’s support for a multimillion-dollar extension of Marshall Road.

The extension would give employees additional access to U.S. 281, east of the campus. Without that access, Washington Mutual has said the campus would not be able to expand beyond its current employment capacity — about 2,500 employees.

“I can say that future expansion plans are contingent upon Marshall Road being extended,” Porter said.

He and Andy Robinson, the campus operations officer, said the company has been in talks about the extension with city and county officials, as well as nearby property owners.

Porter wouldn’t predict how close the city and county are to a decision, but said he hopes to know more by the end of the year.

City officials could not be reached for comment about their discussions with the banking giant, but County Judge Nelson Wolff acknowledged that the county is trying to keep an open mind about participating in the road project.

He said it all depends on the cost of the extension and how much of the costs each party would be asked to shoulder. The city and county normally depend on developers to build roads into their property, but Wolff said Washington Mutual’s economic impact on the city has kept public officials open to participating.

His son, City Councilman Kevin Wolff, represents the district where the campus is located. He has estimated the extension will cost $3 million to $4 million.

Washington Mutual said earlier this year that employment at the campus could jump to 5,000 people if the facility is expanded.

By Bill Barker

This building complex over the recharge zone off of US 281 was originally built by the now defunct WorldCom four miles from the nearest bus route. The site has no pedestrian entrance from the adjacent arterial road Stone Oak Parkway. Yet, WorldCom applied pressure to VIA to extend its bus service by four miles (a long distance for a bus system that goes out about 10 miles from downtown) to the building complex because they discovered that they were having a hard time attracting employees for their many low-paying telephone bank and clerical jobs. Of course, WorldCom expected VIA to pay for this. It is not clear how a bus patron was to get into and out of WordCom from the nearest street (Stone Oak Parkway).

When Washington Mutual took over the empty WorldCom complex, they wanted the government to build an exclusive on/off ramp from US 281. They expected TxDOT to pay for the ramp. Meanwhile, the San Antonio Mobility Coalition pointed to the Washington Mutual move into the empty WorldCom complex as an example of the economic development brought about by highways and a need for expansion of US 281.

Now Washington Mutual wants local governments to expand Marshall Road to try to fix the inherent transportation access problems with this poorly located and planned facility. Expansion of WaMu at this location would worsen the threat to the aquifer and the congestion on US 281. WaMu should plan to expand with another facility nearer to where its workforce lives, there are adequate transportation facilities/services and at a location that does not threaten everyone’s water. WaMu will find it increasingly difficult to recruit employees as the price of gasoline continues to rise, TxDOT continues to pursue tolls on US 281, and WaMu employees have few transportation choices.