Beware of Greeks bearing gifts or City Slickers bearing Promises & Gifts!
By Pat Hunter

Do you remember Greek mythology and the Trojan horse? After 10-years of fighting, the Greeks devised a way to outsmart the Trojans. The Greek army built a wooden horse leaving its belly hollow so that they could hide inside. The horse was left outside the walls of the Greek fortress. The Trojans welcomed the gift and took it within their walls; little did they know that the belly of the beast was filled with armed soldiers who would destroy their city.

Lenoir City Council discusses $9 Million TIF

Councilman Mike Henline requested information on the revised $9 Million Tax Increment Financing (TIF) plan at the Lenoir City workshop. In attendance was Dr. Bob Overholt’s team including chief speaker Lee Kribbs, attorney Dennis Ragsdale and Dan Tiller with KCDC. TV celebrity Dr. Bob did not attend the council workshop.

Lee Kribbs, chief spokesperson, described the three main road infrastructure to the Overholt development project:

  • Main connector road from across the hospital on Hwy 321 to Harrison Rd.

  • Second road within the development that would connect to Adesa Blvd.

  • Third major road is the special school connector road, which would go directly to the existing Lenoir City Middle School.

Kribbs explained that the existing road dead-ends at the middle school. He mentioned how Lenoir City School Superintendent (Wayne Miller) had a really big problem with traffic issues. He commented how Miller was very concerned about traffic worsening once Lenoir City builds an additional new school to that same piece of property!

Development Project

Kribbs said that Phase 1 of Town Creek, across from Wal-Mart, was currently being graded. The next phase to be developed by the TETRA Group was to follow with 6 component areas including a big box retailer area, medical park area, entertainment festive retail area, pedestrian mall area, senior active rental units and multi-family rental units and neighborhood commercial area to service the Harrison Hills neighbors with shop and go retailers like Weigels.

LCUB Sewer Problems

Kribbs spoke about LCUB’s sewer problems and bringing 12” lines down old Hwy 95 toward Adesa Dr. A lump sum of $2 Million dollars from TIF funds would be paid to LCUB for that purpose. He said that the remainder $4.9 M would go to build about $8-$10 Million worth of roadway, which would also be shared with the developer. Here's a breakdown - Town Creek Project TIF Proceeds (Exhibit D)

Councilman Eddie Simpson spoke about the use of 23,000 yards of dirt to build a road. Kribbs acknowledged that the dirt would be cut from one area and moved to improve the roadway. Simpson commented about the topo of the Eldridge Farm and pointed out why sewer lines were needed along old Hwy 95. Kribbs acknowledged that it would be used for the development near the old Bart Eldridge road area and onto Adesa Dr. He reminded them that not one penny of TIF funds could go toward private construction activity such as buildings or parking lots

Budget Shortfall – Negative Impact discussion:

Councilman Simpson was concerned about the negative impact on Lenoir City’s budget for the first 3-year period. Kribbs commented how the city budget needs had grown by about $60,000. He said that the TETRA Development Group would make a “$60,000 contribution” to Lenoir City from private funds not TIF monies to take care of Lenoir City’s budget shortfall for the first 3-years. Simpson said that he wanted to clarify that he was concerned about the property tax base not sales tax growth because he (Simpson) had not done the calculations on the sales tax growth.   

Financially strapped Lenoir City is looking at several capital projects improvements so Lenoir City’s needs for revenue is immediate not later. Kribbs said that they restructured the Tax Increment Financing to exclude personal property tax so the city could capture that revenue. He said that Lenoir City is estimated to get about $13,600M - $13,700M, and schools could get about $12M from sales tax after the debt service (figures were projections for a 20-year period.) 

Coucilman Eddie Simpson wanted to know, who would guarantee that the project would be completed. Kribbs appeared nervous and he gave an answer but he didn't really answer Simpson’s question.  

Kribbs summarized:

  • Lenoir City officials had requested a donation for a piece of property and his group would agree to donate a 1- acre site near the Lenoir City Middle School. He said that at one time it was thought to be the perfect location for a future fire hall but that a Fire Study showed that the Fire Hall would need to be located at another location.

  • His group would give a "$60,000 contribution" to Lenoir City for 3-years to address Lenoir City's budget shortfall.

  • The TIF was restructured to exclude personal property tax so the city could capture that revenue.

  • $2Million from TIF funds would go to LCUB to replace 8” lines with 12” lines for improvements along old Hwy 95 and toward Adesa Dr.

Kribbs made a request to Lenoir Council to meet in a Special Called Meeting to approve the TIF by December 31. Please check the Daily Edition and News Herald to see if Lenoir City Council follows through with a proper Public Legal Notice. 

If this proposed commercial venture is a sure winner, developers wouldn't need incentives to pursue them, would they?