Wolf In Sheep's Clothing?
Monday night's county commission meeting was a bit of a watershed moment for the Loudon County Commission. Commissioners took a bold stand in the face of some very forceful arm twisting from some powerful developers and even from mayor, Doyle Arp.
The developers who were asking for twenty million dollars in tax money for their development felt they didn't have the six votes needed to pass their request and wanted more time to as they put it, "so they could spend some one on one time with certain commissioners to help them better understand the benefits of the Town Creek Development." Arp had assured the Overholt group that he would see to it that the vote on Overholt's TIF request would be pulled from the agenda. And to his credit, he tried. Arp seriously overestimated his control over the commission or seriously underestimated the commitment of the commission to protect the interests of the citizens. Either way, Arp was left with egg on his face and unable to fulfill his promise to his developer comrades.
Arp had set up his plan to derail the vote last week when he was quoted in the News Sentinel saying, "Some commissioners may want to delay next Monday’s vote to have more time to review the numbers." If only the reporter had asked him for the names of those commissioners. With a 10-0 vote to reject the proposed TIF plan, it doesn't sound like any of the commissioners needed more time to to review anything. Arp went with the assumption that he could speak for the commissioners and control their actions. Arp was wrong.
Who exactly does Mr. Arp represent? A quick look at Arp's donor list from his bid for the mayor's office reveals that Mr. Arp, who stated that he holds a realtor license, is heavily indebted to the realtors and developers who contributed thousands and thousands of dollars to his campaign. Pay backs are tough and he failed miserably this time. It's also pretty obvious by reviewing the Loudon County online property assessments, that many developers, and others, were given some very, very favorable assessments on their properties.
Mr. Arp has committed himself and is owned lock, stock and barrel by the influence of big developers and realtors. He has appointed like minded, pro developer individuals to many boards and committees. The rejection of the Overholt TIF plan will not be the last we will hear from developers wanting in the pockets of the tax payers now that they have one of their own in the big chair in the front office. Arp is the preverbal wolf in sheep's clothing.