Chattanooga’s Passion for Corporate Welfare
Little Chicago Watch has been studying the PILOT agreements issued through River City Company and the Chamber of Commerce.
Which of these wealthy corporations actually need public assistance?
Why is River City Company charged with brokering PILOT agreements, while they acquire PILOTs for their own business ventures? Majestic Theater
Understanding taxation imposed by local government is a fundamental civic responsibility. First and foremost, citizens must believe that the application of taxes imposed on citizens are equitable and fairly appropriated. This document will serve as a beginning point for a citizen initiative to collect and examine local data on Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreements issued by the City of Chattanooga and Hamilton County governments that abate or partially abate property tax payments for a certain select group of corporations and nonprofits. It is highly appropriate for citizens to understand the basis for which our local governments are exempting certain business entities from paying property taxes, and to attempt to quantify the impact. We are certain that city of Chattanooga sales tax revenues are flat, so where is the return from this A-List of corporations that are exempt from property taxes for services?
Pilot by definition
Payments in lieu of tax (property tax abatement) are simply the transfer of a public or governmental entity’s exempt status to a private user or corporation. The property is not on the tax rolls because it belongs to an exempt entity, even though it is being leased to, and used by a private company or individual. Private lessees of public property may be required to make a partial payment, or even to pay actual taxes, for some or all of the years of the PILOT. The amounts and terms of these payments are negotiated by the government and incorporated into an economic development agreement (EDA).
The State of Tennessee, city of Chattanooga, and Hamilton County governments are exempting wealthy corporations from paying their share of property local taxes at epidemic levels. We are concerned because property taxes fund local services, such as emergency services and infrastructure. Further, each time a business is exempt from paying property taxes, we must pay for their share of services. The result is small business and retirees ends up subsidizing wealthy big business.
The list of corporations that enjoy PILOT exemptions is not only growing at alarming rates, but the duration of the exemptions are extending into the year 2033. Small business, working class families, and retirees will pay these corporations share of local property taxes, and for all the services provided by the City of Chattanooga and Hamilton County.
Hamilton County is number 33 (see 2nd column), the list of Pilots for 2011 alone.
More to Come, Please know we are certain this is out of hand locally.
Meet the A-List of City and County Pilots that enjoy property tax abatement.