Chamber Of Commerce Taking Our Tax Dollars

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The local Chamber of Commerce continues to pour public messages to convince we the people that giving local tax dollars to rich industry is somehow good for us.


This notion of feeding our local tax dollars to the top in a trickle down economic model of the Chamber of Commerce, masters of corporate welfare, is based in cronyism and tax exempt programs for the rich industry. Our city has never been more impoverished; with the poverty rate increasing from 16 to 25 percent during the Chamber tear mandating that we the working class and small businesses pay the rich industry list of 53 share of local taxes and services, or PILOT.   It should mean rich industrial flight from paying taxes, but it really means is  Payments In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT). This fancy name, PILOT, is designated so regular working class and poor, like me, that are busy in lives don’t know what the heck it means.


The Chamber of Commerce and their elected buddies are robbing small business and working class people.  We should challenge this notion of the Chamber diverting our hard earned taxpayer resources from local services.


It is just mind boggling that the “corporate union" of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce receives $1.1 million annually of our local tax dollars to operate. Our local elected officials just won’t deny the Chamber of Commerce, a powerful organization, anything they want, including other people’s money called public resources.  The Chamber of Commerce has members, let them pay dues that are adequate to fund the Chamber of Commerce functions in the city and county. 


After all, at least 53 of the Chamber of Commerce largest industrial members have reduced property taxes under Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) incentive programs approved by the Chamber, prior to any public comment. Our city and county elected officials are just approved these agreements behind our backs. We learn the details, are the dirty deed is done.


These PILOT tax exemption are only available to big industry or business, and have no claw back provision to protect the taxpayers. If the corporate members do not create the number of jobs promised in exchange for our tax dollars, we the people are just taken the cleaners.  Why aren’t the taxpayers being protected in these bad business deals. We just get thrown under the bus, with no say in the matter, because our elected officials are cowards.


The Chamber of Commerce property tax abatements are only available to big business, and mandate the little guys, small business, retail, and citizens pay industry’s share of local taxes.  The corporate welfare club won't even fund their own club called, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce. The taxpayers through our local elected officials gives the Chamber of Commerce $1.1 million to operate, money, that should go to the school system or blighted areas of Chattanooga.


Locals cannot start a business under PILOT because the Chamber of Commerce has the deal rigged for big industry corporate welfare, a small business or retail must have 50 jobs creation right out of the gate. The Chamber has just ruled out small to medium business. Then, the Chamber does not make industry getting the tax exemption guarantee job creation with claw back. What this means if industry does not create the jobs and maintain the number of jobs during the tax exemption period, they have to return the tax incentives.  Seems reasonable to me, if we give our tax dollars to a company, they must be accountable for delivering what they promised.


Did you know a PILOT was issued for the movie theater downtown, reduction in taxes, and the other movie theaters had to compete with the non-property paying movie theatre?


Also, why should the local taxes I pay go to the Chamber of Commerce organization, $1.1 million dollars annually of local tax dollars. At least, the local unions pay their own way.


I have not even started on the $9 million TIF, we the people, were forced to hand off to a group of rich developers for their Aetna Mtn. Road. 


When we the people say, “NO” to our local city and county governments and elected officials continuing to give local tax dollars to their cronies, and to the Chamber of Commerce, this will stop.  Until then, go back to sleep, while the Chamber of Commerce and their buddies continue to rob us.


"Local incentives are offered by the Chattanooga and Hamilton County governments in the form of a payment in lieu of tax (PILOT) program for new & expanding businesses. This incentive allows qualified businesses to substantially reduce their local real and/or personal property taxes for new investments in real and personal property. Typically, projects must have an investment value of at least $5 million in new real and personal property and create 50 or more new jobs with wages equal to or greater than the average wage in Hamilton County as reported by the U. S. Department of Labor.


Once a client is able to share information on the type of project, proposed capital investment, new jobs, and payroll, the Chattanooga Chamber can readily provide a preliminary commitment with regard to tax abatement and land cost. The city and county are prepared to offer some form of tax abatement in combination with a competitive land cost for manufacturing companies interested in locating in Chattanooga.” 

April Eidson

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