Another Stealth Sweetheart Deal -
Courtesy of the EDA!
By: Pat Hunter
October 19, 2008
Once more it seems like the EDA inner circle is playing hide and seek about a plant expansion and taxpayer money. The Loudon County Economic Development Agency (EDA) is funded primarily with taxpayer money so where is the transparency and accountability with this agency? The EDA is chaired by Mayor Doyle Arp and the Board is comprised of local county and city governments (Lenoir and Loudon) and special interest.
Taxpayers have a right to know the name of the company and all details if it involves A tax break or the use of public funds. Secret deals, which involve taxpayer money can seriously erode public confidence.
Nearly eight years ago, EDA Director Pat Phillips went before Loudon County Commission seeking approval for a tax break for an industry that had plans of expanding and creating about 70 jobs. It was handled as a Top Secret, hush-hush mission. The industry was finally named and it was Kimberly Clark (KC) located in the Sugarlimb Industrial Park. How many KC employees actually reside in Loudon County?
Loudon County Commission gave KC the nod of approval for a big fat break on property tax payments. It was hailed as the first Loudon County Payment In Lieu Of Tax “P.I.L.O.T” Agreement, about $555,719 annually for five years, according to the EDA website.
The tax write off was about $2,778,595 (est.) and the plant expansion was described as “a tremendous positive impact on the community's quality of life.” Some of the neighbors living near the Sugarlimb Industrial Park will beg to differ given the environmental problems of particulates, soot and ash generated from the incineration of the KC sludge.
What if five years of tax revenues had been collected from KC and spent to fix school buildings or to build brick and mortar for students instead of giving a Fortune 500 company a free ride?
The EDA will hold a special called joint workshop meeting on Monday’s (Oct. 20th) at 6:00 PM at the Courthouse Annex between county commissioners, Loudon City and EDA board. According to the local newspaper, EDA personnel will share information about another proposed expansion for industry X while not divulging their identity!
Why hide the name of the industry or try to keep it a secret? Taxpayers deserve full disclosure and nothing less!