Local News

After Years of Underpaying Employees and Ignoring the Housing Shortage, Elling Halvorson Opens His Wallet if Voters Make Him Richer

February 9, 2012

By Mike Scerbo

The man employs more people than anyone else in Tusayan. The man has owned hundreds of acres of land in Tusayan for decades. Now suddenly Elling Halvorson is complaining that people are underpaid and there is a housing shortage.Given the fact that he has never built decent employee housing and underpays his employees, he ought to know.

Halvorson made one of his rare appearances in Tusayan on February 8th to pimp his deal with the people of Tusayan. If voters approve a series of zoning changes that would increase his net worth by millions, Halvorson is willing to pony up $250,000 to assist low income Tusayan residents in obtaining housing. Halvorson is worth millions and in the scheme of thing the guy probably has 250 grand stuck in his sofa cushions.

What makes Halvorson’s words hollow is that one of the reasons there are so many low income people in Tusayan is because Halvorson doesn’t pay them enough. Unless you are one of his select few employees with lots of influence, chances are you are not making too much money working for Halvorson.

While Halvorson expresses concerned about the lack of decent housing, he hasn’t be built any homes for his workers. The only exceptions are homes he built for his daughter and a senior manager. He has not used his vast real estate holdings to accommodate low income housing. Instead he provides trailers.

Now that business partner Stilo is set to ravage the community in exchange for just 40 acres for the city, Halvorson is ready to reach into his pocket if Tusayan voters side with the Italian developer.If they don’t, Halvorson would close his wallet. He told those at the meeting, “If there isn’t a yes vote there is no place to spend this money so we pack up and go away.”

At the February 8th meeting, which looked more like a Halvorson employee gathering than an actual community forum, Halvorson employees like Town Council member Al “$8,000 Win Bonus” Montoya contributed such hard hitting comments to the dialogue such as, “Thank you for your generosity.” Nobody asked why he didn’t do this before as his underpaid workers live in substandard trailers.

As Halvorson fielded softball questions from his employees gathered at the meeting he opined, that “it’s hard to give away money.” Actually it isn’t. It’s called charity. Offering $250,000 in exchange for yes votes on a deal that would make Halvorson millions isn’t charity. It’s an insult.