Tax deal approved by county industrial board

Robert Houk • Apr 23, 2019 at 8:28 PM

A tax incentive deal for a German company to locate in the Washington County Industrial Park cleared its the final hurdle locally Tuesday in the county’s Industrial Development Board.

The board voted unanimously to approve a 13-year payment-in-lieu taxes agreement, or PILOT, for the unnamed company to build a 110,000-square-foot plant in the Washington County Industrial Park.

Chuck Mason, the board’s chairman, said landing the company would allow the county to “recoup the investments” it has recently made in the industrial park. He also said bringing the company to Telford could be a catalyst for enticing similar manufacturers to the park.

“Having the land available makes us competitive,” Mason said.

The company also is eyeing offers from two other communities, one in Texas and another in Tennessee. Even so, economic officials believe Washington County is the best fit for the manufacturer of automobile heating and cooling components.

“We are very optimistic,” Alicia Summers, vice president of business development for Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership, said of the deal with the company, which is referred to as the “Project Starlight” in official legal documents.

The PILOT calls for the abatement of all taxes by the company during the first three years, followed by property taxes being levied at increasing 10 percent increments in each of the next 10 years until the company is paying its full tax bill.

Personal property would face no taxes in the first three years and then be taxed annually at the full rate.

Washington County commissioners also voted 10-4-1 Monday night to approve the deal, which calls for the company to create 179 new jobs and make a $37.4 million capital capital investment during a five-year period. The Industrial Development Board is now responsible for implementing the agreement with the company.

“We’ve worked on this 13 months,” County Mayor Joe Grandy said, noting the company has agreed to designate $59,000 of its tax dollars to go annually to education.

Summers said the company is “very comfortable” with the community and the quality of the workforce in the area. She expects the company to announce its decision within the next 30 days.

She also told industrial board members work in recent years to prepare two pad-ready certified sites in the industrial park played a pivotal role in making Washington County a finalist for Project Starlight.

“Companies are looking for pad-ready sites,” she said.

Grandy said money from the Project Starlight’s land transaction could be used to prepare other pad-ready sites in the industrial park. That includes developing an additional 37 acres the county purchased for the park in 2018.

He also said Summers has been tasked with delivering a regular report to county commissioners on the job creation status of all county PILOT agreements.

“There’s a perception from the community that all this information needs to be out there, and not just on a crisis basis,” Mason said.


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