NO Tax Bail Out Ė NO Free Ride!
Commercial Development Must Stand on its Own Two Feet
Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men, it's said, often go awry, just ask County Mayor Doyle Arp. Arp tried some last minute delay tactics. First, he placed Dr. Bobís grandiose $20 Million Tax Increment Finance (TIF) matter on the commission agenda, then he asked for more time and to remove TIF from the agenda but it didnít quite work out like Arp thought.
Commissioner Wayne Gardin, seconded by commissioner Don Miller, made a motion to leave the TIF matter on the agenda. Nine commissioners voted to leave the TIF on the agenda and only one no vote came from D-2 Lenoir City commissioner Shirley Reno.
In a unanimous and decisive vote by all ten commissioners, Dr. Bobís $20Million TIF request was voted down and the Lenoir City delegation comprised of Mayor Matt Brookshireís father in-law, Freddy Nelson, LCUB manager, and Shannon Littleton, assistant LCUB manager and city legal counsel, promptly departed after commissionís vote along with Wayne Miller, director of Lenoir City schools. Dr. Bob Overholt did not attend Mondayís Nov 5th commission meeting.
Why did Lenoir City bite off more than it could chew?
When Dr. Bobís property was annexed by Lenoir City, nothing was said about TIF even though Lenoir City Regional Planning officials discussed many details about his request for annexation, zoning and plan of services for approximately 268 acres located between Hwy 321- Old Hwy 95, the old Eldridge Farm. Planners were asked to address Lenoir City's resources and their ability to provide and plan services to the entire 268-acre parcel of property.
Lenoir City planner Ms. Monty Ross asked for a timetable of total build out of the project and at no time did developers disclose that this project hinged on TIF public financing. The Overholt project was described as off to a fast and "hot area for development" because of its prime location across from Wal-Mart- Hwy. 321.
Overholtís property was annexed without hesitation by Lenoir City with no other passing thought, that is, until TV celebrity Dr. Bob and his associates and Lenoir City officials asked Loudon County taxpayers for approval of TIF public financing.
Commercial Development Tax Needed:Itís a good thing that commissioners didnít go along with Dr. Bobís property tax freeze because every tax dollar will be needed to help pay for county schools in view that commissioners now tell taxpayers that they face all sorts of possible tax increases to fund an estimated $134 Million school building program. At a recent commission workshop, D-7 commissioner Don Miller gave his tax increase scenarios as to how to pay for a $100M school building program by implementing various types of taxes including a sales tax increase, property rate tax increase and wheel tax.
We just learned about the enormous cost and demands that commercial development will place on infrastructure and public services. Lenoir City will enjoy the sales tax windfall but now its time for Loudon County commissioners to examine other tax revenue streams such as imposing an Impact Fee (adequate facilities-development taxes) on commercial property as they imposed a tax on residential development. Other counties have imposed such a tax on commercial development and its time to consider it here. Its only fair that commercial development pay its own way.