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Helen Burns Sharp of public policy advocacy group Accountability for Taxpayers Money, speaks to the Chattanooga City Council.
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HomeServe USA has scored a five-year tax break from Chattanooga for its East Brainerd expansion, and looks for a similar deal from Hamilton County.

The UK-based company, which has operated a call center in Chattanooga since 2010, sells monthly major household repair plans to homeowners. 

On Tuesday, the Chattanooga City Council voted 9-0 in favor of a scaled payment-in-lieu-of-taxes [PILOT] agreement which requires the company to add nearly 200 more employees to its staff of 300 and to invest $5.7 million in a new 46,000-square-foot facility. 

Before the vote, several council members thanked members of Accountability for Taxpayers Money, a public policy advocacy group, for their recommendations on the agreement.

"You all are to be applauded because all the research you do is not only immense, but it is super beneficial to helping us make decisions," Councilman Darrin Ledford said, singly out ATM leader Helen Burns Sharp for her willingness to help him. 

The council pushed for - and  received - changes to the agreement based on feedback from ATM, including a stipulation that HomeServe would continue its Chattanooga operations for three years beyond the  five-year PILOT period and stronger clawback language in case the company failed to deliver on its part of PILOT. 

Employee salaries will average $39,250 for new 192 positions. Of that number, 133 will be production-level positions that pay an average of $35,000 a year, according to the PILOT agreement. 

For the city's part, it agrees to abate 100 percent of the new property taxes generated by HomeServe's new operations center in the first year of the PILOT. That scales down to 75 percent in the second year and 60 percent in the third year. The company will pay 50 percent of the new property taxes owed in the last two years. 

Councilman Chip Henderson said the council wanted HomeServe to recruit from neighborhoods impacted by underemployment. 

"The Chamber of Commerce going to work with the company to come up with an outreach plan in the next 60 to 90 days," City Attorney Wade Hinton said. 

The Hamilton County Commission votes on the HomeServe PILOT today. 

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