By Meg Dickens
Johnson County and Mountain City governments do not agree on tax abatements if the past few deals are any indication. First, the county approved CrystaLac’s five-year tax abatement, which the city postponed and eventually denied on its end. Now a similar five-year deal is in the works for the new Family Dollar and Dollar Tree store combo. City officials seemed displeased, saying the county “shouldn’t be able to slip it past us.”
The most prominent concern revolved around losing tax dollars. “We survive off this money,” Vice Mayor Jerry Horne explained. Officials again considered creating a city-specific Industrial Development Board (IDB), but City Lawyer George Wright countered, explaining that it would be “counterproductive” and that the deal could benefit the city.
Tax abatement deals are complicated and full of conditions. According to the county’s terms, the Family Dollar and Dollar Tree combo’s first step is to turn over the property to the IDB, which, as a 501C3 organization, qualifies as tax-exempt. As part of the deal, the store has to provide around 20 new jobs to the area, stay here for a minimum of ten years, and create an appropriate building. According to City Mayor Jerry Jordan, Assessor of Property Matthew Lewis estimates the new construction will up property value from around $240,000 to $800,000.
The city and county will receive taxes based on the new value after the deal expires. Like the last discussion, Alderman Lawrence Keeble was concerned this would create a “snowball effect” of lost tax dollars if the economy started booming. Wright was not disturbed thanks to the strenuous hoops organizations jump through to qualify. He seemed optimistic that deals like this could benefit the entire area if well implemented.
“I don’t think we have anything to be worried about,” Wright told City Council members. “For new businesses coming in, building and putting investment in, that could be a very good vehicle for allowing them to do it.”
At the time of this article, the deal is still in discussion. For more information on Johnson County government, visit johnsoncountytn.gov. For more information on Mountain City government, visit mountaincitytn.org.