Bradley County Commission Wants To Hear From Assessor On Late Tax Bills; Mars Chocolate Has New $10 Million Investment

Monday, October 28, 2013

Bradley County Commission members are asking Assessor Stanley Thompson to appear at the next commission meeting to answer questions about late tax bills.

Asked about the issue, County Mayor D. Gary Davis said it does not appear that the bills will be out this month. "It doesn't look like they will make it. It will probably be sometime in November," he said.

The county mayor said he was advised that it was a computer software issue and that the latest software solution "was sent to Nashville and the numbers didn't jive."

County Mayor Davis said, "We don't get in a whole lot of tax money in September and October, but now we're not getting in any. It's not a good thing."

Also at the Monday night non-voting session, Doug Berry, Chamber of Commerce economic development vice president, said the Mars Chocolate North America facility is making a new $10 million equipment investment at the local facility. He said it will add four part-time jobs.

The subject was brought up in order to amend the current PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreement between the county and the candy company.

Mr. Berry said at the start of the PILOT that Mars promised $67 million in spending and 38 new jobs. He said the actual new spending has been $90 million and 84 new jobs have been created.

Dan Rawls, who frequently attends commission meetings, was critical of the PILOT program, but Vice Chairman Adam Lowe said, "I like to think that the tax abatement we gave helped them to make this additional expansion."

Mr. Berry said Mars is paying $500,000 a year in annual taxes on its initial plant (prior to the expansion) as well as over $100,000 on the new facilities.

The new equipment is for a Twix production line, he said.

The seven-year PILOT agreement with Mars runs through the end of 2018.

Suzanne Burns told the commission she and other volunteers are making progress on setting up a Foundation House Ministries for young women who become pregnant and are in need of help, including a residential program and job and skills training.

She said the group now has achieved 501(c)(3) status.

Commissioner Jeff Yarber, who introduced Ms. Burns, said it is "a way to get some people off of government help." He said the welfare system "encourages people not to get married and not to get jobs."

Vice Chairman Lowe said Cleveland State Community College has set up some programs that might benefits clients at the ministry.   

Commissioner Ed Elkins said the program "picks up where New Hope (Pregnancy Center) leaves off."

School Board member Chris Turner said the board will discuss the issue of Common Core at a work session on Tuesday of next week. 


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