Snake Oil

In the old days, it wasn't uncommon to find slick, smooth talking sales men standing on the street corner selling their miracle elixirs. Guaranteed to cure what ails you. The mysterious concoction promised almost magical properties that could solve all your problems inside and out. In the old days these smooth talkers were called Snake Oil Salesmen. Now days we call them developers.

After Lenoir City officials obligated up to five million dollars of tax payer money to build the Creekwood developers a new road, the Town Creek developers couldn't be far behind with their hands out. Overholt and company are asking for you to give up to twenty million in tax dollars to their development. Just like the snake oil salesmen of the past, the developers of the present are promising that their elixir/development will solve all the city's financial woes. For instance, they claim their development will be a three hundred million development which is nearly the tax base of all the rest of the city. So what's a paltry twenty million? Another claim the developers make is that the new development will create 3500 permanent jobs. Given that Loudon County's unemployment is essentially zero, then most of those employees will have to come here from somewhere else. Mexico maybe? If only two of ten of those employees has a child, that would require two new schools.

The Town Creek developers suggestion on how the city and county can fleece the tax payers is more complicated and confusing than the Creekwood giveaway and it even has an professional sounding title, Tax Increment Financing (TIF) but the results are the same. The tax payers foot the bill for the developers.

The Lenoir City Industrial Board heard it's first pitch for the plan at a Friday meeting and as always, not only do the developers need the money, they need it in a hurry thus the board needs to move swiftly on the matter before it slips away. Never mind that that will leave little time for study and research, just trust us. We've got it all figured out for you. Just move the process along. Just say yes. We are here to help you. But this onion has more than one layer. One note of interest, the LC Industrial Board voted Friday evening August 31, at 6:30 to hold a public hearing on September 17 on the TIF plan. Amazingly, the public notice for the meeting was posted in the News Herald by Sunday Morning September 2 about thirty-six hours after the vote. Seems like somebody already knew there would be a public hearing before it was ever voted on.

Some of the more interesting information that came out at the meeting, was the fact that the city will not issue any more building permits for the Hwy. 321 area. This due to the fact that the sewer lines serving the whole area have been deemed totally inadequate to handle any more development according to the state. According to Mr. Lee Cribs, spokesman for Overholt/Town Creek development, no more development can take place on 321 till LCUB installs a new, much larger sewer line. About four million dollars worth. Stay with me now, this is where we complete the circle. Overholt/Town Creek development has agreed to contribute 1.6 million to the construction of the new sewer line but he can't give his money to LCUB till the City approves the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) so he can get the twenty million dollars from the tax payers. Whew! That's a lot sewage.

In summery, even though we are seeing a lot of dirt being moved, there will be no buildings tying to the sewer till LCUB upgrades the sewer lines. LCUB has no money to upgrade the sewer lines. Overholt and others will bail out LCUB if the city and county will obligate the tax payers to give to the developers twenty million dollars. Oh and by the way, none of this addresses the state mandated eighteen million dollar expansion and upgrade of the sewerage treatment plant.

The developers call it a no brinier, a win win. The tax payers call it, getting screwed again.

Snake Oil Video 1      Snake Oil Video 2