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."


Ric Ebersole

New And Used Vehicle Sales Drop In August

New vehicle sales in Hamilton County dropped to 1,025 in August, and used vehicle sales dropped to 3,315, according to figures from the County Clerk's office. Totals for August included 4,300 new cars and 595 new trucks sold. They included 1,754 used cars and 1,561 used trucks sold. (click for more)

Wayne Price Joins Barge Waggoner Sumner And Cannon

Barge, Waggoner, Sumner and Cannon, Inc. announced that Wayne Price, PE, CCS, joins the firm as director of production quality. His primary responsibilities will be updating, expanding, implementing and monitoring the Barge Waggoner Quality program across all Business Practices and all offices. “Wayne’s experience in procuring and administering construction contracts, as well ... (click for more)

Rhasean Lowry, 34, Charged In Death of 3-Year-Old Girl

Rhasean Lowry, 34, was arrested for abusing a three-year-old girl, and then criminal homicide after she died. Last Tuesday, the Chattanooga Police Department was called on a suspected child abuse case. Lowry took the victim to a local hospital and he stated the victim fell down steps. Doctors advised that the victim’s injuries were the result of blunt force trauma consistent ... (click for more)

City IDB Member Who Made Motion For $9 Million Black Creek TIF Had Not Lived In City For Years

A City Industrial Development Board (IDB) member who made the motion to approve a controversial $9 million Black Creek Tax Increment Financing (TIF) had not lived in the city for years, City Attorney Wade Hinton confirmed. Chris Ramsey, a BlueCross BlueShield official, was not present at an IDB meeting on Tuesday morning. Five other board members were. Citizen Helen Burns ... (click for more)

Decimating The Chattanooga Public Library

Corinne Hill claims that the library is just undergoing a normal weeding process for eliminating books.  She has bragged that she's responsible for the elimination of over 100,000 books - with more to go. "Normal" weeding is not rampant throwing away.  Yes, books go to the Friends for their sale - where they get $2 for a $75 book and thousands wind up being recycled ... (click for more)

The Many Lessons I Learned From Helen McDonald Exum

Helen McDonald Exum was my friend and mentor. As I think of her passing I can only imagine the celebration that is happening in heaven as the news of her arrival is being told. I am sure that there is a party that not only has she organized but that there is not a detail that has been left to chance. I am sure that it is the grandest of events, for you see, she has been planing ... (click for more)