IDC Takes Another Look at the TIF Agreement With Black Mountain Developers

CHATTANOOGA, TN (WDEF-TV) – Chattanooga’s Industrial Development Board is taking another look at government involvement in that 9-million dollar road to the top of Elder Mountain.
Two years ago, the board, the city council and county commission approved a 9-million dollar TIF for the developers of Black Creek Mountain.
But it’s back to square-one thanks to a judge’s decision.

Work on the Black Creek development has been going on for two years.
Developers say they will invest 60-million dollars, not including the estimated 500-million dollars that will be needed to build 1500 homes and retail outlets.
Local government agreed on the 9-million dollars TIF financing for the main road, but a ruling two weeks ago from chancery court sent everybody back to the drawing board.
Judge Frank Brown invalidated the TIF.
Activist Helen Burns Sharp brought the lawsuit.

HELEN BURNS SHARP, CHATTANOOGA "I have some experience with Tax…and I feel like it can be a very good economic development tool, but I feel like this particular project is the poster child for how not to do tax incentives."

In an incredibly complex case, both sides showed up for the Industrial development Board meeting.

CHIP HENDERSON, CITY COUNCIL DIST. 1 "It is the process, is what Judge Brown found to be in violation, and I believe this violation in process merits a second look by the city council."

RICHARD EBERSOL, FORMER CHAIRMAN, I.D.B. "What you heard the attorneys supporting the project say is good. But remember the words they used…the developers are expecting to do this, the developer is intending to do this ..What if the developer doesn’t do it? "

One of the developers is Chattanooga engineer Doug Stein who issued a statement saying "there is no scenario under which taxpayers will lose any money because of the TIF."

But the bonds issued two years ago are already sold. They were actually bought by the developers themselves.
Which raises the issue—now what?

The Industrial Development Board has another public hearing set for Friday morning.
It could decide to send the issue back to city and county officials for more study.

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