Community News Council postpones decision about controversial tax breaks for developers

Community News Council postpones decision about controversial tax breaks for developers

September 14th, 2016 by Joy Lukachick Smith in Community Metro

Candidates associated with Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke won one race and lost two in Thursday's election.

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

Gallery: City reworks controversial housing tax breaks

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The City Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing next week on the city's controversial tax break program. The hearing will occur during the Economic and Community Development Committee meeting Sept. 20 immediately following the 3 p.m. agenda session.

The decision for a hearing came at the time of a scheduled vote on the matter last week, after critics claimed the program was being rushed through without time for public input.

The tax incentive program that offers 10-year tax breaks to developers building apartments downtown, known as the the payment-in-lieu-of-taxes-program, or PILOT program, was recently revamped after months of critics calling for changes.

Those who have asked for the reform argued the program had done nothing to create affordable housing options for residents downtown, even though that's what the mayor's office had claimed the program was designed to do.

In mid-July, Mayor Andy Berke announced that he would revamp the program with a better emphasis on affordable housing. But he didn't present specific details outlining the changes to the program.

The City Council's scheduled vote on the changes last night would have been the first time the changes were outlined publicly.

Helen Burns Sharp, a retired city planner and founder of the watchdog group Accountability for Taxpayer Money, said she and others in the group are pleased the council has listened to their concerns.

The group is now asking to be heard during a committee meeting in two weeks when the council will talk about the new policy before voting on the changes.

To read the PILOT proposal, visit timesfreepress.com/news/local/story/2016/sep/07/critics-ask-setable-planning-controversial-ta/385344/#document_1684.

Email Joy Lukachick Smith at jsmith@timesfreepress.com


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