Commission needs closing pilot checklist - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Commission needs closing pilot checklist

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Over the decades we've become a nation who loves using acronyms for companies, organizations and agencies.

In Memphis we have abbreviations such as MHA and NAACP. On the economic front we now have The EDGE Board and the CCR, both of whom have PILOT programs.

We just have to make sure we don't go "BROKE" in giving them out to prospective companies.

MORE: Downtown Memphis Center City Revenue Finance Corporation
MORE: CCRFC PILOT (Payment-In-Lieu-of Tax) or Tax-Freeze Program
MORE: Learn more about the PILOT program and view existing PILOTs

They're called PILOT programs for city and county economic development. But, Shelby County Commission Chairman, Mike Ritz, is determined to make sure of two things: who is directing the business strategies and is everybody running the programs all on board when it comes to providing accurate information on every aspect of the deals made with the companies.

"What we need to do is come up with a comprehensive closing checklist and that deals aren't done until the checklist is totally met," he said. "Soup to nuts. If I don't get the documentation in regards to personal property, there's no way I'm actually going be able to justify values for them."

With only three commissioners in attendance, Ritz hosted what amounted to a brief "tutotorial" on how the sometimes controversial economic incentives program operates. For instance, Reid Dulberger, the CEO and president of the Economic Development Growth Engine (EDGE) board gave a simple definition of PILOT as it relates to what his joint city and county agency does.

"A pilot is a partial abatement of real, intangible, personal property taxes," Dulberger said. "We are currently authorized to abate 75 percent of the county taxes associated with the project and 90 percent of city taxes."

PILOT 101 Class continued with Center City Revenue Finance Corporation Chief Executive Paul Morris, outlining why the PILOTSs earmarked for downtown are different from those offered by the EDGE board.

"We only do PILOTs downtown," Morris said. "We don't do personal property. We only do real estate property."

The PILOT program makes a deal with the property owner. The deal is that if you develop your property and actually pour enough money into it to make more than double the value of your property. Then we'll give you a partial tax abatement for a certain number of years.

Dulberger says his agency is in the three-stage process of putting all of the PILOT information from the 65 companies in his program "online" for the public and city and county officials to peruse for themselves. Dulberger says his office also is conducting on-site inspections to make sure the information on PILOT applications remains accurate, including whether the previously projected number of jobs generated by the companies actually materializes. 

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