County Commissioner Tim Boyd said Wednesday that PILOT tax abatements are "corporate welfare at its worst" including one proposed for a redo of the rundown Patten Towers. He added, "I'm sick of it."
The City Council already approved a 25-year tax break for the Elmington firm, which plans to spend $9.5 million in remodeling the facility.
Commissioner Boyd took issue with the Elmington stance that the project could not go forward without the PILOT.
He also said rents at the Patten Towers are well above low income levels and closer to market rates. Much of the rent amount is subsidized by HUD. Patten Tower rents are $920 for a studio and $1,125 for a one-bedroom. Commissioner Boyd said his daughter is paying $600 rent in North Chattanooga.
Commissioner Boyd also disputed a projected $150 per month utility bill for the units. He said, "My bill for my 3,000-square-foot home is not that much." He said it should be more like $50 for the small Patten units.
Other commissioners spoke in favor of the project, including Commissioner Katherlyn Geter. She said she was most concerned "about the plight of the residents." Most of the 245 residents are elderly or disabled.
John Shepard of Elmington said the renovation should cut down on some $250,000 per year in city fire halls to the building and also boost the surrounding Innovation District. Commissioner Boyd said the city could cut down on the fire calls by charging high fees for a second false alarm per month.
Mr. Shepard said Bingo's Market will reopen in the former hotel to provide fresh food to residents and nearby customers.
He said the Patten Towers had been "walled off" from the community, but that will help open it up.
Mr. Shepard said even with the tax break that there would be an increase in the $146,668 per year now going to the county on the property. He said the full amount of the school tax will be paid on the improvements.