Friday, November 13, 2009

November 13, 2009 City upset at WATE-TV questions regarding finances

Yesterday's City Finance Committee meeting was long.  I will go into more detail this weekend.

Although it was not on the agenda, there were several comments about calls that councilmembers had received from WATE-TV in Knoxville about the financial condition of the city.  The WATE website report is here.  I heard that WATE also discussed the city's financial situation during its evening news report yesterday.

Apparently, the WATE reporter had been told of the city's financial situation (not good at all) and was planning to come to the Finance Committee meeting if cuts were to be discussed. 

Mr. Wampler spoke to the reporter and told her that proposed cuts had not been prepared and would not be discussed at yesterday's meeting, so WATE didn't come.

While the Mayor and councilmembers are trying to calm everybody down about the city's finances, they are also considering selling some city property (off Sulphur Springs Road) to raise money for the general fund.

Yesterday, there was also discussion about a TIF agreement (tax increment financing) in which the City will more or less give up collecting real and personal property taxes for a lengthy period of time and instead will allow tax money to be used for development of property along E. Morris Boulevard between S. Liberty Hill Road and Montvue.  The Industrial Board is working this out and the proposal to give up taxes for a period of time will be pitched to the city and to the county. 

The owner or developer of the property, according to Finance Chair Frank McGuffin, is All Star Construction. McGuffin expects that city sales tax revenue would increase with the proposed largely retail development. And after the TIF ends (maybe 15 years or so), the real estate and personal property taxes on the land and equipment would then be available to the city for the general fund.

[Tax Increment Financing typically dedicates tax increments (increased tax revenues) within a certain defined district to finance the debt that was issued to pay for infrastructure and other improvements.]

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