City Council OKs Tate & Lyle pilot plan

Heidi Lara

Loudon City Council approved a resolution Monday for Loudon County Economic Development Agency to negotiate a new payment in lieu of taxes agreement with Tate & Lyle as a potential way to resolve an ongoing property tax appeal at the Blair Blend Drive facility.

Property Assessor Mike Campbell will appeal Administrative Judge Mark Aaron’s ruling in favor of Tate & Lyle.

“Tate & Lyle won’t come to us, but they will listen if we bring something to them,” City Manager Lynn Mills said. “I don’t think we’ll lose an appeal. We are asking the Loudon County Economic Development Agency to make a pilot with Tate & Lyle.”
Councilman Johnny James asked if Tate & Lyle agrees to the pilot program, would it put the tax appeal process to rest. “That’s my understanding,” Jack Qualls, EDA director, said.
Loudon County Commission on Monday also considered giving Qualls the go-ahead to re-enter negotiations with Tate & Lyle after a payment in lieu of taxes agreement fell through months ago.
“We need more buildings, and we need more expansion,” James said. “That’s what it is to me.”
Vice Mayor Lynn Millsaps said the incentive encourages Tate & Lyle to make a profit, while having someone else pay their taxes.
“I don’t see why they don’t want to pay their taxes if everyone else here has to pay these taxes,” Millsaps said. “Their biggest argument was their Loudon plant wasn’t located in the corn belt, but they didn’t mention it costs less to ship corn to other states in the Southeast. They’re not comparing apples to apples. Their incentive to me is they make more profit and not pay their taxes.”
James agreed with Millsaps, but said their options were limited.
“I think we need to enter into a conversation about it,” Councilman Jeff Harris said.
“We need to look at it and see their proposal and see how we come out,” James said. “I agree with Lynn. The taste in my mouth is not good.”
In other business, council:
• Approved the lowest fuel bid from Rogers Petroleum Inc., for $11,436.50.
• Authorized the removal of cabinetry in the Lions Club Pavilion based on a recommendation from Mark Harrell, Parks and Recreation director. The city will supply lumber, paint and wire shelving for Jerry Trout to remove the cabinets, put supports under the counters and install a shelf above the kitchen sink.