Two City Council members on Tuesday expressed concerns about a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) plan to help developers launch a "small town" on now-uninhabited Aetna Mountain.
Council members Deborah Scott and Pam Ladd said they believe approving the deal for a group led by Gilbert Stein and Gary Chazen will cause other developers to want the same arrangement for their projects. Ms. Scott said one developer has already approached her for his own TIF.
Ms. Ladd said the council, if it plans to begin approving TIFs, needs to put criteria in place like it does on deals involving tax breaks for new industry.
Ms. Scott, representative of the district where the huge project is planned, said she does not know of another instance where government helps developers with roads, utilities and sewers. She said there are many others waiting in line for getting their roads repaired, and she said some in her district don't have any water service.
Ms. Scott also said it appears to her that TIFs are designed for "blighted" areas.
Nashville attorney George Masterson said the government won't have any liability on the project. It would just approve the TIF, which would provide up to $9 million in bonds to build a road up the mountain and to the planned town center. He said the developers will buy the bonds. He said if the project goes bust, then it is the developers' loss. He said the city would be left with a new road.
He said TIFs are not limited to blighted areas and that many are in place across the state.
The City Council is to vote on the TIF next Tuesday. It has already been approved by the City Bond Board and the County Commission.