Bond Board Chairman Ebersole Poses Questions On Business Tax Breaks

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Ric Ebersole, chairman of the city Industrial Development Board, has sent a list of questions to city attorneys regarding tax breaks given businesses in the form of Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreements.

Mr. Ebersole also commented during a bond board meeting Tuesday that there were a couple of unusual sections in a PILOT for Chattanooga Coca-Cola Bottling, which is opening a major distribution center at the former Olan Mills site at Highway 153 and Shallowford Road.

No other member of the bond board inquired about the sections or made any comment, so the PILOT was approved.

Mr. Ebersole was told that the PILOT agreements are worked out through the Chamber of Commerce.

The chairman said he would delay a discussion on PILOTs until Chamber of Commerce officials could be present to take part. 

Here is a memo Mr. Ebersole wrote to City Attorney Wade Hinton and Assistant City Attorney Phil Noblett on the PILOT issue:

Wade, Phil,

I notice from the Agenda for the April 8, 2014 meeting that no one from the Chamber of Commerce is scheduled to brief the IDB members on the status of the various PILOT agreements that the IDB is party to despite the Board's repeated requests for this information.

I think the following items need to be available to the Board members:

1.  How many PILOT agreements are now in force?

2.  How many beneficiaries of these agreements are in compliance with the terms of the agreement especially as regards employment?

3.  What reporting requirements are imposed on the beneficiaries of the PILOT agreements?

4.  Who is responsible for collecting such reports?

5.  What information do these reports contain, especially in terms of employment and additional investment?

6.  What is the frequency of these reports, e.g. do all reports fall due on the same date, or does each PILOT have its own reporting date?

7.  If your office has reports on the status of the PILOT agreements, please provide copies for at least the 5 most recent years

8.  How much revenue has the City given up under these agreements in each of the past 10 years. In other words, what is the difference        between how much the city would have collected in property taxes without the PILOT agreements and how much has been              collected? 

9.  How much revenue has the City collected as a result of the increased employment and/or increased economic activity resulting from 

     the projects receiving PILOT agreements in each of the past 10 years and what was the methodology used to calculate that figure,

10. What objective criteria is available to the IDB to determine if the project receiving a PILOT represents a prudent use of taxpayer              funds? 

11. Is there an application form or fee for PILOTs?

12. What criteria are applicants asked to address?

13. Are applicants asked to sign an affidavit stating that they would not do the project in Chattanooga if they did not get the PILOT?

14. Are there notes from meetings where these projects were discussed at the Chamber and with the City and County Mayors?

15. Are documents regarding public tax incentives and housed at the Chamber considered “public records”?

I expect that other IDB members will have additional questions and concerns and I would urge them to bring these to the attention of the Board.  If the Board is so inclined, I can put this in the form a Resolution to make the request "official."

Thanks,

Ric Ebersole


Scam Phone Calls Continue; IRS Identifies Five Easy Ways To Spot Suspicious Calls

The Internal Revenue Service issued a consumer alert today providing taxpayers with additional tips to protect themselves from telephone scam artists calling and pretending to be with the IRS.   These callers may demand money or may say you have a refund due and try to trick you into sharing private information. These con artists can sound convincing when they call. They ... (click for more)

CBL & Associates Properties To Pay Common And Preferred Stock Dividends

CBL & Associates Properties, Inc. Thursday announced that its Board of Directors has declared a quarterly cash dividend for the company’s Common Stock of $0.245 per share for the quarter ending Sept. 30. The dividend is payable on Oct. 15 to shareholders of record as of Sept. 30. The Board also declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.4609375 per depositary share for the ... (click for more)

Plan Revived For 5-Story Boutique Hotel Next To The Walnut Street Bridge

Plans have been revived for a five-story boutique hotel next to the Walnut Street Bridge. Vision Hospitality Group said the yet-to-be named hotel will provide 90 rooms featuring high-end amenities and exemplary service in the city's art district. Plans for a similar hotel were announced in 2012, but the proposal was later withdrawn. The hotel is slated for 102 Walnut ... (click for more)

Grand Jury Says County Needs To Start "Immediately" On Funding A New County Jail

Members of the Hamilton County Grand Jury said in a final report that the county needs to start "immediately" on funding a replacement for the Hamilton County Jail. The report, read by Foreman Robert Smith, says, "The Jail is near and/or over capacity and understaffed!  Hard-working corrections officers are in constant danger.  Being responsible for 80-100 inmates per ... (click for more)

Better Plan For Walnut Street Hotel

Mitch Patel and his Vision Hospitality Group have unveiled a revised plan for a hotel on Walnut Street. It is much better than the one proposed two years ago. By having no curb cuts on Walnut Street, it makes that special block near the bridge more inviting and safer for pedestrians. Deliveries would be off Riverfront Parkway and hotel access (valet parking) would be off Aquarium ... (click for more)

Thanks For Making The Southern Brewers Festival A Success

Now that the dust has settled I'd like to thank Chattanooga for supporting the Southern Brewers Festival and making it yet another very successful event.    For those who do not know - the SBF benefits the Chattanooga chapter of Kids on the Block and the Chattanooga Community Kitchen.  As a partner helping the SBF with volunteers, sponsorships and the overall production ... (click for more)