published Friday, August 16th, 2013

Hamilton County plans new vote on distilleries

An artist rendering of the future site of the Chattanooga Whiskey Co. Distillery at 1400 Fort St. on the Southside.
An artist rendering of the future site of the Chattanooga Whiskey Co. Distillery at 1400 Fort St. on the Southside.
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

In other business, commissioners considered:

* Several rezoning items for a property at 8430 Providence Road.

* A resolution accepting a bid from G.T. Distributors of Georgia for one year contract unit pricing for body armor and other tactical gear for the Sheriff's Office.

* A resolution accepting a $34,998 bid from Playcore Holdings for playground equipment for North Hamilton County Elementary School. The bid would be paid for from Commissioner Fred Skillern's discretionary fund.

* A resolution to grant five days of paid leave for county employees to participate in a United Way campaign.

County commissioners are so adamant about keeping hooch-makers out of Hamilton's unincorporated areas they are going to vote on it again -- but only because a previous resolution they passed was premature.

Commission Chairman Larry Henry said during an agenda session Thursday that the commissioners "had the cart before the horse" in June when they first voted to bar distilleries from operating in unincorporated parts of the county. He said the legislation had not yet been fully approved by the Tennessee Legislature.

Gov. Bill Haslam signed the distilleries bill in May, but the law did not officially go into effect until July 1.

Mayor Jim Coppinger said during the meeting that the resolution was the same as before, but the original vote had just been "a bit premature."

To rectify the situation, the commission is set to rescind the June vote and revote on the same resolution next week. The initial vote passed unanimously.

Commissioners will also have a week to mull a proposed payment in lieu of taxes agreement -- or PILOT -- for WNA American Plastic Industries.

The company plans a $15 million expansion at its facility at 5930 Quintus Loop, which is billed to add 53 full-time jobs with average salaries around $33,000, according to documents attached to the proposed resolution.

The company is asking to be exempt from property tax on the expansion from 2014 to 2017, and instead pay a percentage of the amount to the county and city for those years. After the four-year period, the company would start paying the full amount of property taxes to the county and the city -- but the school system would get its full share the entire time.

Coppinger said the move would be good for the county.

"Obviously, we want to create jobs and one of the tools in the toolbox is to offer incentives," he said.

The agreement is a bit unique in that the company would get a full break the first year, Coppinger said.

"One of the things we are doing differently here is in the second year ... what we are asking them to do is pay money to the county and the city general fund," he said.

In the first year, the company would pay no money to the city and county general funds. But for the next three years, it would pay 25 percent, 40 percent and 50 percent of what would have been its tax bill to the city and county each.

Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at 423-757-6481 or at lbrogdon@timesfreepress.com.

about Louie Brogdon...

Louie Brogdon began reporting with the Chattanooga Times Free Press in February 2013. Before he came to the Scenic City, Louie lived on St. Simons Island, Ga. and covered crime, courts, environment and government at the Brunswick News, a 17,000-circulation daily on the Georgia coast. While there, he was awarded for investigative reporting on police discipline and other law enforcement issues by the Georgia Press Association. For the Times Free Press, Louie covers Hamilton County ...

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