Project Tango

Square in the face of loosing maybe a million dollars in tax revenues from the two largest industries in Loudon County, both Loudon County commission and Loudon City officials are being asked to be prepared to vote to possibly give up even more potential industry tax revenues under the secret code name "Project Tango."

Project Tango is yet another brain child of Loudon County Economic Development President, Pat Phillips. County and city officials have been given very little information by Phillips other than it's suppose to be a "big deal" possibly bringing  400-1200 jobs to the county. Unfortunately, this isn't Phillips' first big deal. In fact Loudon and Loudon County have lost literally millions of dollars over the years on Phillips' big deals.

Phillips, whose eighty thousand dollar per year job requires him to spend a lot of time having brunch, lunch and suppers with possible business prospects for Loudon County has a woeful track record with few successes if any. Let's see if we can remember a few of his past big deals. There was;

Center 75, millions spent by both Loudon and Loudon County. Most expensive pasture land in the county.
John Deere, big investment, lots of jobs, then they pull up stakes and leave.
Tennessee National, no telling how much tax money was donated to this one. Now all but defunct.
Christensen Yachts, millions in tax dollars spent, never opened.
Mike Ross, Rarity Landings, never even got underway.
Mike Ross, Rarity Pointe, a huge mess for everybody.
Tax breaks for Tate-Lyle, Loudon now raising taxes to cover loss.
Tax breaks for Kimberly-Clark, same as above.
The Ed Loy six million dollar Adesa extension, six million dollar road for private developer. Not a single retail business.
Dr. Bob's Overholt's big TIF tax break, fortunately, LC and county officials walked away from this one.

This list is not all inclusive but just some of Phillips' highlights or lowlights as the case may be.

Sadly and for reasons I can't explain, local elected officials just keep falling over for Phillips' big deals when there's no evidence he has ever achieved any success. What's the old saying? Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. I'm not sure who is shamed when you get fooled over and over.

Project Tango is by far the largest giveaway Phillips has ever asked for. A 10 year 50% tax break and on top of that, the city and county are being asked to spend a million dollars to prepare the site for the mystery industry with no commitment that the industry would even locate here if they they get all the goodies they're asking for. But talk about setting a precedent. Oh, and as usual, both bodies have to hurry up and vote on the matter to beat a deadline according to Phillips. Both governmental bodies are set to vote on Phillip's request Monday night.

Who knows, maybe this time Mr. Phillips big deal will pan out. But if not, not to worry. The tax payers will foot the bill, again.

Tax incentives a 'mixed blessing' to Loudon County

By Hugh G. Willett


Kimberly-Clark, one of the two large Loudon County companies contesting their property tax assessments, has been the beneficiary of tax breaks in the past.

The county has a history of offering tax breaks to recruit and retain employers, according to Pat Phillips, president of the Loudon County Economic Development Agency.

"Retaining existing jobs is as important as creating new jobs," Phillips said.

In 2008, Kimberly-Clark made a deal with Loudon County for a $422,234 tax break for five years. The incentive was needed to help fund an expansion at the plant that would keep jobs in the county. The company was the beneficiary of a similar tax break in 2000.

Kimberly-Clark believes in paying its fair share, according to Bob Brand, a spokesman for the company. The current appeal is a result of a companywide effort to reduce costs, he said.

In 2010, DuPont Tate & Lyle, a joint venture between DuPont and Tate & Lyle to produce glycol products from corn, requested a 50 percent tax break over five years.

The proposal annually costs the city about $120,000 and the county more than $185,000 in lost tax revenue. DuPont Tate & Lyle makes annual payments in lieu of taxes in the amount of about $61,000.

The tax abatement was an incentive to support an almost $20 million expansion of the company's Loudon facility and could result in up to five new jobs in addition to the construction jobs, Phillips told Loudon County Commission at the time.

"We have to make sure these companies are competitive globally," Phillips said. "If they are successful they will expand and create jobs."

Tax abatements are a common method of luring companies to move to the county, he said. Tennessee Packaging was offered tax incentives to bring its plant to Loudon County in 2010, Phillips said. The company, which wanted to be closer to the interstate, had been located in Monroe County for several decades.

Loudon County currently is in negotiations with a large company code named Tango to maintain confidentiality that could bring a "significant number" of new jobs, Phillips said. The county is looking at a variety of tax breaks, infrastructure improvements and land discounts to attract the company, he said.

Tax incentives are a "mixed blessing" said Loudon County Commissioner Bob Franke, who points out that counties who do not offer incentives can find themselves at a disadvantage.

"I'm not a big fan of (tax increment financing) and things like that, " Franke said. "You can't give away the store."

Christensen Yachts, located in Franke's district, was lured to Loudon County because of its access to a pool of skilled boat builders and Tellico Lake. The state helped build a road into the site, but the county provided no incentives. Construction of the plant, which is currently stalled because of the economy, could create 1,200 to 1,500 jobs, he said.