No one was more surprised by the announcement of the closing of the former F&A Cheese plant than myself. Here is a 50-year-old plant, with 50 employees, paying over $35,000 in factory property taxes to the Village of Dresser and now stopping all business May 31. Business consolidation and cost of upgrades were given as reasons but one has to wonder how smart the Dresser Village Board was in the hounding of F&A over the years because of occasional smells.
A few years ago I worked at a paper mill (and paper mills do smell) located in a small town not much bigger than Dresser. I was asked one day in town how I liked the smell? And was then quickly told that the odor was the smell of money. The village had a nice K-12 school, fine library and the fire department was furnished with all the latest in equipment. Homes in the area reflected good paying jobs and the one restaurant in town was always busy. The residents realized that when the smell stopped so did their main benefactor.
Several years ago Dresser was deceived to believe a Boundary Agreement with the Town of Osceola that froze its borders for 20 years was a good thing. And a few years ago a new rock quarry that would have brought in 20 direct/100 indirect jobs, pay $70,000 annually in property taxes and provide $150,000 in annual revenue sharing for Dresser was labelled a bad thing. Combine these decisions with the Village Board President resigning over a felony conviction, the Chief of Police narrowly avoiding a DWI, a Village worker questioned about expenditures for personal gain, untold drug stories and just recently a Washington County criminal unit raiding a Dresser resident for stolen property. Good people making bad decisions?
Now and yet again, Dresser has lost a major employer and the residents will be required to pick up the tax tab unless a new buyer can be found. And if not, residents will assume any lost property tax revenue and they will continue to witness an expected further decay of streets, sidewalks and infrastructure. Maybe that additional quarry operation or that occasional smell wouldn’t have been so bad after all?