|PILOT agreement final piece in tax rate puzzle
Jeremy Nash news-herald.net
A certified tax rate has been set that should lead the way for Loudon County and city of Loudon officials to move forward with 2017-18 fiscal year budgets.
The certified rates for Loudon County and Loudon are $1.8035 and $1.1836, respectively, which takes into account a payment in lieu of taxes agreement with Tate & Lyle. A document provided at a county budget committee meeting Thursday shows the 10-year PILOT will be $1.7 million annually. The county and city’s portion are $1,026,396.84 and $673,603.16, respectively.
Both city and county governmental bodies agreed to hold off on approving a budget until the certified tax rate was given from the state. The rate was not available until July 28, the day after Tate & Lyle approved the PILOT.
“The holdup has been that we’ve been in negotiations with Tate & Lyle trying to incorporate a PILOT that would resolve previous litigation, the appeals from 2011 to date, and it resolved those issues as well as taking us forward for the 10-year period,” Mike Campbell, county property assessor, said. “Tate & Lyle being your No. 1 taxpayer for 30 years, very large, complex industrial property has a significant impact to the county and a significant impact to the city.
“So we wanted to be cautious in our calculations and preparation of the tax rates and keeping everything transparent to everyone regarding what’s going on,” he added. “Sometimes it’s better to take your time, don’t rush through it and report to everybody what the actual facts and background is.”
Loudon County properties will not be reappraised again until 2021, according to the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury.
Loudon City Councilman Jeff Harris believes the city will move forward with a rate of $1.1767, which has stayed the same for years.
“This is unique with this PILOT (for) Tate & Lyle,” Harris said. “I mean that was such an important step we needed to take to get that behind us and their corporations and all the officers and all the people involved that had to get signatures and lawyers that had to look at it, I mean it just took some time, but that’s what really kind of slowed everything down. ... This kind of circumstances don’t happen all the time, so that’s what kind of muddied the water a little bit with this PILOT program that we were doing with Tate & Lyle.”
An amendment will have to be made to PILOT revenues if either certified rates are not used, Campbell said.
“Each jurisdiction can take the certified tax rate and to be tax neutral the rate would be at 1.1873, but each jurisdiction has the ability to look at total revenues and see if they can adopt a rate that is less than the certified tax rate,” Campbell said.
Loudon City Council will vote on the tax rate at 1 p.m. Thursday at city hall.
County budget talks near end
Commission after its scheduled meeting Monday held a workshop to go over the budget.
Highlights include a 2 percent raise for all employees, a new Clerk & Master employee at $25,500, a boost in contributions to nonprofit organizations and a raise in minimum salary for all employees at $25,500. Slight changes to the local option sales tax are also made.
Commissioner Henry Cullen called the budget “straightforward.”
Cullen believes the boost in minimum salary is “absolutely” a result of the lawsuit with Loudon County General Sessions and Circuit Court Clerk Lisa Niles. The raise is “only fair,” he said.
“If your fellow (employee) was getting more money than you were getting you’d be teed off,” Cullen said. “There’s a rule in employment. Let me give you the rule in personnel management. You got to be brutally fair.”
Raising the minimum salary adds about $15,000 to the budget, which Commissioner Leo Bradshaw said was surprising.
“In fact, I thought — and I think most of us did think it would be a bigger number than that,” Bradshaw said. “After we got looking at it there wasn’t that many people that was that far below. Some people might have been at $23,000 or $24,000, but there wasn’t a huge amount of people that was much lower than it. It’s not a bad thing at all.”
A public hearing on the county budget is scheduled for 6 p.m. Aug. 21 at the Loudon County Courthouse Annex. Commissioners will then vote on the budget at 6 p.m. Aug. 24 in the same location.