Jumping a week ahead of schedule, Hamilton County commissioners voted unanimously Thursday to approve a memorandum of understanding that lays out the terms for Volkswagen building its new plant in Chattanooga.
“This is one of the proudest votes I’ve had,” said Commissioner Richard Casavant.
Included in the memorandum are the terms of tax breaks for the automaker, site preparation, job training assistance and environmental provisions.
County Mayor Claude Ramsey said the county has committed about $20 million for roads, railroads and fences at the Enterprise South industrial park, home to the VW assembly plant.
According to a memorandum of understanding the Hamilton County Commission approved Thursday, “public authorities” have agreed to pay $110 million for site improvements at Enterprise South so it will be ready for Volkswagen. Those public authorities are:
* The state of Tennessee
* The city of Chattanooga
* Hamilton County
* The Industrial Development Board of the city of Chattanooga
* The Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce
That pool of money doesn’t include funding for a road connecting Interstate 75 to state Highway 58, he said.
“The money’s set aside from the federal government to do that,” Mr. Ramsey said.
The commission was set to vote on the memorandum and a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement Wednesday, but Commissioner Bill Hullander said the commission wanted to move up the vote.
“We’re just so excited about it, and wanted (Volkswagen) to know that we’ll go ahead and do it today,” he said.
Mr. Hullander asked whether the company would pay the portion of its property taxes that go to the county schools. Mr. Ramsey said it would.
“They always said they wanted to pay the school levy,” he said.
Under the payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement, Volkswagen would pay 29.23 percent of its property taxes between 2010 and 2039. After that, the company would have to pay 100 percent of the property tax.
The memorandum of understanding the commission passed Thursday will not be finalized until December, Mr. Ramsey said.
Alex Leath, an attorney for Volkswagen, said the company is “moving forward aggressively” with preparing the assembly plant.
The next step for county officials is making sure Hamilton County residents are prepared for the jobs that are coming, Mr. Ramsey said.
“We need to encourage our people to prepare to take these jobs,” he said.