Loudon County gives local industry a break

Commission OKs $180K savings to growing company

Hugh G. Willett knoxnews.com

LOUDON — The Loudon County Commission on Monday night approved a five-year, 50 percent tax break for a company that says it is considering investing $20 million to $25 million in new infrastructure.

The proposal, which passed on an 8-2 vote, would give the company a total tax savings of about $180,000 after making payments in lieu of taxes of about $57,000 per year over the next five years.

“This is our opportunity to show support for local industry,” said Pat Phillips, chairman of the Loudon County Economic Development Agency. “The company is looking at alternative sites.”

The company has not yet committed to the expansion and for that reason does not want to reveal its name, Phillips said. However, at least two commissioners used the name Kimberly-Clark, a consumer products company that has operations in Loudon County, during Monday night’s discussion.

The proposal met opposition from several commissioners and residents who said they were concerned that giving a tax break to a local industry might set a precedent for other companies wanting similar breaks.

“I’m concerned about giving a … tax break to a company that won’t even reveal itself,” said Commissioner Austin Shaver.

The expansion would not necessarily create new jobs but might prevent jobs from being lost, he said.

Commissioner Don Miller, who ended up voting for the proposal, said he has “really struggled” with the issue and is concerned about setting a precedent.

“The precedent has already been set,” said Commissioner Nancy Marcus, who pointed out that similar deals had been struck with the company and other companies in the past.

Loudon resident Shirley Harrison also voiced her opposition to the deal. “Large corporations should pay their own taxes,” she said.