Helen Burns Sharp Questions Tax Breaks For 2 Businesses

Friday, November 22, 2013 - by Hollie Webb

As the Industrial Development Board of Chattanooga passed resolutions that offered tax incentives to several incoming companies in its Friday meeting, Helen Burns Sharp questioned how aware the public is of these practices.

Opening her presentation, she said that former President John F. Kennedy had spoken in Chattanooga about this very subject. Years before he was a presidential candidate, he had addressed the Chattanooga Rotary Club. There he called for an end to the state of Tennessee's practice of issuing revenue bonds to new industries. Revenue bonds are tax exempt and may be issued to finance public works. 

In the meeting, the board voted to give these property tax breaks to Woodbridge Chattanooga Formed Plastics and WNA American Plastics. However, Ms. Sharp questioned if giving these tax breaks was not "more like a reward than an inducement." She pointed out that the problem was not "Woodbridge-specific." 

First, she asked the board members if this was really necessary to bring in new companies. It had previously been said that the process of selecting a site for development was competitive; Chattanooga was one of several options for each company. However, it was not stated if the other potential locations had offered similar tax incentives.

She next asked the board, "Are these the kind of jobs Chattanooga wants to incentivise?" Each company will bring over 50 new full-time jobs to the area, with average wages around $16 per hour. Ms. Sharp pointed out that a non-industrial company like Costco would also create jobs and offer average wages closer to $22 per hour. 

She said, "I think we have some fundamental transparency issues." She told the board it was difficult to find information about their meetings and that other agencies like the Chamber of Commerce did not even open their meetings to the public. She said, "The public needs someone who's going to discuss in a public forum why (the resolutions) are a good idea, and why they are good for the city."

Several board members told Ms. Sharp they were sympathetic to her concerns and would try to give the public more information about the dates and times of future meetings. 


Dr. Shih-Lung Shaw To Speak At International Business Council Meeting

Dr. Shih-Lung Shaw, director of Confucius Institute and professor of geography at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, will discuss the UT Confucius Institute: Enhancing the Learning of Chinese Language and Culture at the International Business Council’s upcoming meeting on Thursday, from 5:30–7 p.m. at The INCubator, at 100 Cherokee Blvd. International Business Council ... (click for more)

BlueCross BlueShield Of Tennessee Foundation To Endow WGU Tennessee Scholarship

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation will endow $10,000 in scholarship funds to WGU Tennessee, the state-endorsed, nonprofit online university launched last summer as part of Gov. Bill Haslam’s “Drive to 55” initiative, officials announced. “There’s a gap in the health care industry when it comes to medical analytics and nursing analytics professions in Tennessee,” said ... (click for more)

City, County Pull The Plug On Downtown Shooting Range

City and county officials have decided to keep the police firing range at Moccasin Bend rather than building an expensive new indoor facility at the former Farmers Market property. County Mayor Jim Coppinger said Sheriff Jim Hammond and new Police Chief Fred Fletcher met recently and decided to "pull the plug" on the project. He said officers felt that the Moccasin Bend range ... (click for more)

Reception Honors County's 2nd-Longest Serving Employee

General Sessions Court Judge Clarence Shattuck, at a County Courthouse reception, asked anyone who was working at the courthouse in 1966 to raise their hand. Only Circuit Court Clerk Paula Thompson was able to do so. Judge Shattuck said he believes only Edna Camp of the Criminal Court clerk's office, has been at the courthouse longer. Ms. Thompson did not seek re-election, ... (click for more)

Vote No On Health Insurance Changes Affecting County Teachers

Our Hamilton County School Board will vote on insurance changes effecting both active employees and retirees, who are not on Medicare at this time.  HCEA strongly objects to changes being made at this time and urges a “No” vote.  Insurance had been frozen three years by negotiations.  Since the Educators Professional Negotiations Act was nullified by the 2011 Legislature, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Al Sharpton’s Wise Remarks

I’ll admit I paid little more than scant attention to the Monday funeral of Michael Brown, the 18-year-old who was shot and killed by police bullets in Ferguson, Mo., after he allegedly was involved in strong-armed robbery. There are too many tawdry details and, in my way of thinking, there is nothing under God’s sun, absolutely nothing, that gives others the right to riot, burn ... (click for more)