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Panel nods CoreTech PILOT agreement

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By CONNIE ESHThe Wilson Post

Wilson County Commission’s Budget Committee unanimously approved a PILOT, or payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, agreement for CoreTech Industries at the panel’s regular meeting Thursday night.

According to G.C. Hixson, director of the Joint Economic and Community and Development Board, who presented the request, the PILOT agreement will allow CoreTech to pay 17 percent of the tax the company will owe on “personal property.”

CoreTech would pay all of its regular property taxes, an estimated $534,000 per year, but for the first seven years would only have to pay 17 percent of the personal tax, or taxes on the furnishings of the three units it plans to build on Franklin Road, Hixson said.

“If the company paid the total personal tax bill each year, they would pay approximately $346,000 in the seven-year period instead of paying $59,000 as they will under this agreement,” he added.

Hixson said this agreement is similar to one the county already has with Kenwal Industries.

CoreTech expects to spend $70 million to construct the three-building research and development complex, Hixson said.

The committee also agreed to send the full county commission a request from Bible Park USA developers to allow the proposed park to levy a 5 percent privilege tax on sales within the Bible Park after it is built. The committee’s vote was 3-1 in favor, with District 4 Commissioner Jim Emberton opposed.

Property taxes on the Bible Park property also will increase if it is built, and both the privilege tax revenues and the extra property tax revenues would be used to support and pay off bonds the company expects to issue sometime in the next year. The bonds, which have not been approved yet by the county commission, would help pay the approximate $75 million cost to build the theme park planned for property on Tater Peeler Road, according to BPUSA Inc. representative Rob Wyatt.

Under a plan called Tax Increment Financing, Wilson County and the City of Lebanon would continue to receive their current amount of property taxes, which jointly total approximately $4,300 per year, and would receive all of the regular sales taxes collected in the park.

The committee also agreed to send a letter to all county department heads requesting that they prepare two separate proposed budgets for the committee so it can start planning the fiscal year 2009-2010 county budget.

The letter says that the first budgets should include “NO new monies” and “NO increase in pay not required by state law.”

The letter also says the department heads, not including the school system, should also prepare separate budgets that specify the cuts that could be made if the county faces a shortfall in income. These contingency budgets would total 10 percent less than last year’s budgets.

The request brought opposition from County Mayor Robert Dedman, who said his department couldn’t cut 10 percent without cutting personnel. Agreeing was John Jewel, director of the Wilson Emergency Management Agency, who was the only other department head present. But Jewel said his department would submit both budgets as requested.

Budget Committee Chair Bernie Ash explained that the request is for a worst-case scenario, not a planned cut.

“I don’t want to cut anybody’s budget,” Ash told the committee. But he added that if the committee has to make cuts, he would rather have the department heads decide what they can stand to lose, rather than have the committee decide for them.

County Attorney Mike Jennings also presented the committee with a seven-page memorandum about issues involved in the bidding process to build the proposed new Lebanon High School. However, Jennings said he didn’t expect the committee to do anything about the memorandum right now, since he knew committee members would need to study it.

Ash accepted the memorandum and told the committee that he’s trying to arrange a joint meeting of the Budget Committee, the Education Committee and the school board sometime within the next month. At that meeting, Ash said, he hopes to “make sure that everybody is on the same page.”

Staff Writer Connie may be contacted at cewrite@wilsonpost.com.

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