CALEB members and supporters are showing up to push for clear legislation on tax incentives for private companies. From the Sunday edition of the Chattanooga Times Free Press:
Helen Burns Sharp, who founded the local group Accountability for Taxpayer Money after winning a lawsuit against the city for violating public meetings laws in a 2012 economic development deal, was included and thrilled when PILOT policies first appeared on the October 2022 IDB agenda, having advocated clear and open guidelines for more than a decade.
The 2022 draft policy shared last fall included no mention of limiting the traditional legislative consideration over each PILOT, but the newest draft submitted to the IDB in June read differently.
"I assumed we wanted to become more strategic in granting PILOTs, given that we are currently not collecting over $25 million in property taxes each year due to PILOTs," Sharp said in an email. "I now wonder if the primary result of these draft policies would be to make getting a PILOT easier and reduce the voice of the City Council and County Commission in the review process."
Sharp said she believes all PILOTs should continue to be reviewed by the council and commission.
"They are elected officials and thus accountable," she added. "They vote on budgets and PILOTs involve the budget in that they result in reduced revenues."
Members of the economic mobility task force of Chattanoogans in Action for Love, Equality and Benevolence, a coalition of churches, labor unions, nonprofits and community leaders -- who have also been in conversations with city and chamber leaders over the past two years about developing PILOT policies -- say they are eager to discuss the most recent version and determined to remain engaged with the process.
Development policies powerfully impact work opportunities and life circumstances, Joe Paden, a member of CALEB's economic mobility task force, said in an email.
"We need a transparent process and meaningful standards for evaluating PILOT applications so the public and their representatives have a clear picture of whether or not a proposal will be a good investment to their short and long term economic circumstances in the form of job and training opportunities, good wages, community benefits and corporate accountability," he said.
Read the full article at www.timesfreepress.com/news/2023/aug/05/proposed-policy-may-speed-tax-tfp/#/questions/.
CALEB is an institutional coalition of faith-based, labor, and community groups working to build power to affect change in Chattanooga, TN.