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  • Writer's pictureRaquetta Dotley

Tax Free Chattanooga

"As City Councilwoman I will strive to be transparent and accountable for your tax dollars to ensure we don’t live in a tax free Chattanooga."

Chattanooga is a business and with any business we need revenue to operate. More than half of the City of Chattanoogas’ revenue comes from property taxes paid for by residents and businesses.These taxes are used for essential services such as emergency services, operating costs, and infrastructure improvements. So what happens when taxes are abated through PILOT(s) AND TIF(s)? Is there any accountability for those businesses that receive tax incentives? So what are PILOT(s) and TIF(s)? PILOT: Payment In Lieu Of Taxes TIF: Tax Increment Financing These incentives are used to encourage development and job creation and growth in Chattanooga, but is that what actually happens? Are these incentives necessary for companies and developers to invest in Chattanooga? Does the loss of crucial tax revenue justify the incentive?

"Some PILOT jobs pay less than $13 per hour. Should taxpayers be subsidizing those jobs? It is stated policy in other counties to say that the hourly wage for a PILOT job must equal or exceed the prevailing hourly wage paid in the county.” -Accountability for Taxpayer Money

Tax incentives are not uncommon and can be very useful to boost economic growth. So why is it such a hot topic in Chattanooga? It boils down to this simple statement,"It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it.” There are no consistent criteria or guidelines for PILOT(s) that are readily made available to the public. TIF(s) have criteria but are not always followed depending on the development.

As City Councilwoman, I will strive to be transparent and accountable for your tax dollars to ensure we don’t live in a tax free Chattanooga. I am also committed to fulfilling the 4 demands of CALEB's #DevelopWITHUs campaign, which include:

  1. Establish clear community-driven criteria for jobs pilots

  2. Provide outcomes-based reporting to city council, the public, and relevant city boards prior to vote

  3. Require public hearings prior to vote on any pilot agreement

  4. Work with CALEB to help identify and set clear expectations for appointed to the IDB, HEB boards.

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