Accountability for Taxpayer Money (ATM)  in 2017 released a map of Chattanooga showing in color the location of parcels that were then under a PILOT (green) or TIF (red) tax  incentive agreement or were tax exempt because of government ownership (yellow) or charitable reasons (yellow and orange).

Click on this link for the 2017 ATM map

SOON ATM will post  a larger scale 2018 map of the "Ridge to River" area, where many of the tax favored parcels are concentrated and more are under consideration.

In early 2018, Hamilton County--with help from the City, the Chamber of Commerce and the Enterprise Center--prioritized so-called "low-income" downtown census tracts for "Opportunity Zone" designation, enabling investors in these areas to save on future federal capital gains taxes.  In the narrative with the application, the authors said that these areas would also be eligible for TIF, PILOT, and perhaps bonding financing. 

You will note how much land in the city appears in color in a tax-favored category. The new 2019 map will also show the areas "potentially eligible" for TIF, PILOT. or bonding financing.

We hope the map will remind our elected officials they need to be careful before adding more tax break land through property tax incentives like payment-in-lieu-of- tax (PILOT) and tax increment financing (TIF). 

The tax burden shifts to homeowners and small businesses when large companies are given special treatment.

ATM has recommended policies and procedures that the city and county could consider to address how they review, monitor and enforce the PILOT program. 

ATM  has prepared a study where we examined each PILOT agreement to determine what commitments companies made to get the tax break, what the “clawback” language is if they do not meet their commitments, and what their reporting requirements are. 

The most elusive figures to track are the actual number of new jobs created and the total amount of tax forgiveness per PILOT, data that is necessary to determine the amount of subsidy per job. We  hope the report will nudge officials to enforce agreements if companies have not met their commitments.


~Helen Burns Sharp for ATM

December, 2018