$20M tax plan OK'd by council

Increment financing proposal will help Lenoir City's development


LENOIR CITY — The Lenoir City Council voted Monday to approve a $20 million tax increment financing proposal to provide infrastructure improvements for the planned Town Creek/Overholt retail, medical and residential development.

“You have to give a little to get a little to get the developers to come into the area in the first place,” said City Councilman Gene “Blackie” Johnson before the vote.

“This is going to be a great benefit, assuring the latest medical facilities and the betterment of Lenoir City.”

The Lenoir City Industrial Development Board approved the TIF plan Monday just before the council meeting.

The development board worked with the city council for weeks to fine tune the proposal before the vote, said IDB Chairman Tim Grindstaff.

Among the changes that were added to the original proposal is that any excess revenue beyond that which is needed to pay off the debt will go to the city, he added.

“This is going to be a huge benefit for Lenoir City,” said Grindstaff. “Larger cities have done this successfully for years.”

The plan, which will pay for road, sewer and other infrastructure improvements inside the TIF zone near U.S. Highway 321 and Interstate 75, raises money to pay off a privately funded loan by redirecting the incremental property tax revenue generated after the developer has improved the value of the land.

“This is not a tax break,” said Lenoir City Mayor Matt Brookshire.

The increase in sales tax and other revenues created by accelerating development will more than offset the potential loss of property tax revenue during the 20-year time period, Brookshire explained.

“This is a cohesive plan that maximizes the quality of what the city will get,” he said.

Moreover, the project is something that fits in the long-term plans of the city, he added.

“This is a natural growth area. This area has become the heart of the community,” Brookshire said.

Councilman Eddie Simpson, who along with Councilman Douglas “Buddy” Hines cast the only votes against the plan, said he was concerned about the length of commitment.

“We’re postponing the base tax growth in the heart of the city for the next 20 years,” Simpson said.